Writing & Library Research Methods Lesson Plan: Evaluating Sources in Context

Lesson objective(s):  Help students select the best sources for their work

Total estimated time: 45 minutes

Additional outcome(s): Make evaluation criteria more concrete in students’ minds, get indirect feedback on their bibliography

Course work or assignment underway:

Research paper

Work and/or reading completed before class:

Students have completed their annotated bibliographies. For this activity, they should choose three sources and print out/photocopy the first page of each of those three sources, and to the front of each, they should staple a copy of their research question. They will need to choose sources that are different from each other.

Sequence of Classroom Activities:

As a class, we will brainstorm criteria for evaluating sources. What makes one source “better” than another?  We’ll vote on which are the three most important and define them as a class. (7 minutes)

I will shuffle up some example sources and distribute them among the class.  Each student will have five minutes to evaluate one of the sample sources on the three criteria we’ve chosen.  Then, we’ll talk as a group about how they’ve applied the criteria and how they knew whether a source met them or not.  (10 minutes)

That’s the practice stage. Now, we’ll shuffle up and distribute the sources students brought in. If a student gets her or his own source, that student will trade with someone else.  Each student will have five minutes to evaluate the source on the three criteria we’ve chosen.  They will have a score sheet on which they can give the source one, two, or three points on each attribute. When they’re finished, students will pass their papers to someone else, and the exercise will begin again. They’ll get a chance to look at three different sources.  (15 minutes)

When we’ve finished, I’ll identify the source with the highest score (out of a possible 27).  As a course, we’ll talk about what is so useful about that particular source and possibly what problems students saw in other sources. (10 minutes)

Reflection on the lesson’s success or alternative approaches:

Maybe something like this needs to go earlier in the semester, actually? I have some misgivings about asking students to evaluate the sources that others have selected, for social reasons.

Posted in Sources

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