Evaluating information is a critical skill, not just for school but for everyday life. And we have to be able to evaluate quickly as our feeds get flooded as soon as something (real or fake) starts trending.
There are lots of systems to use to help students through the process of evaluating resources. I happen to like the C.A.R.S. process, developed by Robert Harris. You can access a condensed version of the information from Andy Spinks’ site.
C. A. R. S. stands for Credibility, Accuracy, Reasonableness, and Support.
Again, there are lots of systems, so you can find one you like. The ideas will work with any criteria you use.
One of my favorite assignments is called “Follow the Link”. I find an interesting article with links inside the body of the writing. A recent article I used was, “Our obsession with taking photos is changing how we remember the past.” Next, I created a worksheet that asks the students to follow each link, evaluate it quickly with the C.A.R.S. criteria, and to analyze why the author linked to that source. This article ended up being a great learning lesson. First, Giuliana Mazzoni, the author, links to a variety of sources. The students get to evaluate a range of resources. Second, one of the links is now broken. An important learning moment regarding research hurdles.
It took a little work to find an article and produce the worksheet, but well worth the time.
I ask the students to evaluate sources on different levels. Sometimes the students just have to give a plus or a minus sign for a section. Other times, students are asked to evaluate a source by going through a range of questions and providing information. For example, the students might have to find the contact information for the author, even if it is not right on the page. They may have to search for the author beyond the resource.
In a way, I hope that the C.A.R.S. criteria becomes second nature for the students. That the students can at least quickly evaluate information for class and everyday life.
Next post I will share some assignments I use to keep students researching even when we are studying other subjects.