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Instructor's Companion to Research Now! — Interrogate & Evaluate

Strategies for Implementing the UConn Library's Online Modules

Critical Questions

Good News is Coming! Scrap of Paper on a pole

Interrogate & Evaluate Resources is centered on helping students begin to ask critical questions about the information they encounter.

What you'll find here:

Critical questions for class discussion and assignments are supplied.

Next, read the post "Media Literacy is About Where to Spend Your Trust." This post helps frame some of the goals of information literacy instruction, especially when it comes to questions of authority and trust.

Additional Readings: Breaking News Consumers Handbook | Machine Bias | Using the Four Moves | Fact-Checking Sites

Exercises: Distinguishing Between Facts & Opinion in the News | Believing / Doubting Game | Calling Bullshit

On any given subject, the following critical questions should be applied.

  • How do you know what you know?
  • What information do you trust?
  • What causes you to disagree with a piece of information?
  • What counts as expertise?
  • Who can publish on a specific issue?
  • Who cannot and why?
  • Whose voice is included/ excluded?
  • What information is trusted by society?

From: Swanson, T. (2010). Information is personal: critical information literacy and personal epistemology. Critical library instruction: theories and methods, 265-78.

Framing the Conversation

Breaking News Consumer's Handbook

Machine Bias

Using the Four Moves

Emotional Metacognition:

Finally, Caulfield argues in his book that one of the most important weapons of fact-checking comes from inside the reader: "When you feel strong emotion — happiness, anger, pride, vindication — and that emotion pushes you to share a 'fact' with others, STOP."

His reasoning: Anything that appeals directly to the "lizard brain" is designed to short-circuit our critical thinking. And these kinds of appeals are very often created by active agents of deception.

"We try to convince students to use strong emotions as the mental trigger" for the fact-checking habit, he says.

-From NPR: "Learning to Spot Fake News: Start With a Gut-Check."

Fact Checking Websites

How Misinformation Spreads and Why We Trust It.

Exercise: Distinguishing Between Facts & Opinion in the News

Goals:

  • Give students practice differentiating between a factual and opinion statement

Time:

  • Quiz, 5 minutes or less. 

Assignment: 

Students can complete the quiz out of class as homework, or in class. Students should come to class prepared to discuss their experiences.

Discuss with students:

  • What is the difference between fact and opinion?
  • Why does this difference matter? Does it matter?
  • What statement was easiest for you to recognize as fact or opinion? Why?
  • What statement was hardest to identify as fact or opinion? Why?

Exercise: Believing / Doubting Game

Goals:

  • help students become more aware of the beliefs and opinions they bring to an information source.
  • help student comprehension of information sources

Time: approximately 10 minutes, plus any time for classroom discussion.

Worksheet attached.

How does it work?

  • First, students summarize the main point of an information source.
  • Believing portion: Students spend five minutes freewriting all the reasons they can think of to agree with the author's argument.

"In the 'believe' portion, you try to look at the world through the text's perspective, adopting its ideology, actively supporting its ideas and values. You search your mind for any life experiences or memories of reading and research that help you sympathize with and support the author's view or ideas."

  • Doubting portion: Students spend five minutes freewriting all the reasons they can think of to disagree with the author's argument.

For the doubting portion "Like an antiballistic missile, the doubting game lets you shoot down ideas that you don't like ... Here you try to think of all the problems, limitations, or weaknesses in the author's argument. You brainstorm for personal experiences or memories from reading and research that refute or call into question the author's views."

What are the benefits of this exercise?

  • During the believing part of the exercise - helps readers read a text sympathetically - important for understanding and evaluation.
  • Students often feel as if published authors cannot be challenged. This part of the exercise encourages them to not only question the authority of an author
  • The Believing/Doubting Game makes students aware of how they are drawing on their background knowledge, beliefs, values, and assumptions as they make meaning from and evaluate a source. Such conscious acknowledgement is important not only for evaluation, but also for comprehension.
  • Helping students be aware of the belief and knowledge they bring to information helps students more fairly process belief-consistent and belief-inconsistent information sources - it gives them the chance to ask, why am I agreeing with this? Why am I disagreeing?

 

Adapted from Broussard, M. (2017). Reading, research, and writing : Teaching information literacy with process-based research assignments. Pg. 83

Suggested use:

The case studies can easily be adapted for in-or-out of class assignments, or as the basis for in-or-out of class discussions.

Go through the syllabus readings for inspiration & think about how the topics presented intersect with your discipline / information use in your discipline.

Lecture videos can you help brainstorm discussion questions and class topics.