Students can generally find relevant information for their topic that checks the boxes for “quality,” but then, what do they do with that information? Relying on a checklist approach to source analysis leads to a surface examination of sources, which can then lead to patch-writing and simplistic, bland papers. Instead of focusing just on those outside markers of quality, library instructors at Belmont University also focus on how the source will be used, and for what specific purpose. This holistic approach to evaluating information encourages students to dig deeper into texts while simultaneously teaching that research is about inquiry.
Library instruction at Belmont has been integrated into First Year Seminar for many years, focusing on evaluating information to use in an argumentative paper which requires at least “five substantial sources.” Evaluating information is a complex task, and students need a variety of skills and habits of mind in order to determine if a source is substantial. Using the Framework and a backward design approach to lesson planning, Belmont librarians developed a lesson that teaches students to evaluate information holistically, but focusing on two ideas: 1) first evaluate the outside markers of quality, the checklist approach that includes the author, the publication, date, etc., and 2) evaluate based on how you will use the source in your paper to answer your research question or advance a knowledge claim.
Mills, Jenny, "Beyond the Checklist Approach: Teaching Students to Think about How They Will Use Information" (2020). Library Faculty Scholarship. 9.