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"New Americans" project, Tatlock (6)

Search for clues

Search for Clues. Start by examining the page itself. Look at the web address (URL). What kind of domain (.edu, .gov, .org, .net, .com) is it? This doesn't always help, but it may provide an indication of the sponsor. Is it a government site, school resource, museum, commercial or private web project? Try to determine who published the page. Is it an individual or an agency? Can you find a name attached to the page? Look at the core page for the entire website (everything between the http:// and the first /) and see who sponsored the site and how information was selected. You might also try truncating the website address to see each level between slashes.
 
Sometimes you can answer these questions by reading the creation information at the bottom of the main page. Look for a name, organization, or email address. If you can't find the answer there, see if you can locate a page that tells "about the website." Sometimes there's a "contact us" page. The author of the page and the webmaster may or may not be the same person.
 
For information about the content of the page, look for a link to an author biography, philosophy, or background information.
 
Another hint about the quality of the website is the copyright date. When was the page originally posted? When was the last time the page was updated? This information is generally at the bottom of each page or at least the first page of the website.

Online evaluation

Google Web Search

If you are having trouble finding enough information on your manufacutred product using recommended websites and articles databases, use your best search techniques to find good information on the web.  

Google Web Search

Website evaluation form

What to look for...

Criteria for Evaluation

Students need to learn to evaluate the quality of information they find on the web as well as other information resources such as books, magazines, CD-ROM, and television. Ask students to be skeptical of everything they find. Encourage them to compare and contrast different information resources. Consider the following ideas:

Authority. Who says? Know the author.

  • Who created this information and why?
  • Do you recognize this author or their work?
  • What knowledge or skills do they have in the area?
  • Is he or she stating fact or opinion?
  • What else has this author written?
  • Does the author acknowledge other viewpoints and theories?

Objectivity. Is the information biased? Think about perspective.

  • Is the information objective or subjective?
  • Is it full of fact or opinion?
  • Does it reflect bias? How?
  • How does the sponsorship impact the perspective of the information?
  • Are a balance of perspectives represented?
  • Could the information be meant as humorous, a parody, or satire?

Authenticity. Is the information authentic? Know the source.

  • Where does the information originate?
  • Is the information from an established organization?
  • Has the information been reviewed by others to insure accuracy?
  • Is this a primary source or secondary source of information?
  • Are original sources clear and documented?
  • Is a bibliography provided citing the sources used?

Reliability. Is this information accurate? Consider the origin of the information.

  • Are the sources trustworthy? How do you know?
  • Who is sponsoring this publication?
  • Does the information come from a school, business, or company site?
  • What's the purpose of the information resource: to inform, instruct, persuade, sell? Does this matter?
  • What's their motive?

Timeliness. Is the information current? Consider the currency and timeliness of the information.

  • Does the page provide information about timeliness such as specific dates of information?
  • Does currency of information matter with your particular topic?
  • How current are the sources or links?

Relevance. Is the information helpful? Think about whether you need this information.

  • Does the information contain the breadth and depth needed?
  • Is the information written in a form that is useable (i.e. reading level, technical level)?
  • Is the information in a form that is useful such as words, pictures, charts, sounds, or video?
  • Do the facts contribute something new or add to your knowledge of the subject?
  • Will this information be useful to your project?

Efficiency. Is this information worth the effort? Think about the organization and speed of information access.

  • Is the information well-organized including a table of contents, index, menu, and other easy-to-follow tools for navigation?
  • Is the information presented in a way that is easy to use (i.e., fonts, graphics, headings)?
  • Is the information quick to access?

other criteria to consider

A. Authorship/Sponsorship: Who Put up the Site?

  • The name of the individual or group creating the site should be clearly stated.
  • The creator should give a source for information in the site where necessary.
  • The Web site author or manager should provide a way for users to make comments or ask questions.
  • The Web site author or manager should be responsive to any questions regarding copyright, trademark, or ownership of all material on the site. Sites that knowingly violate copyright statutes or other laws should not be linked, listed, or recommended.

B. Purpose: Every Site Has a Reason for Being There.

  • A site’s purpose should be clear and its content should reflect its purpose, be it to entertain, persuade, educate, or sell.
  • Advertising should be limited and appropriate.
  • Sites devoted strictly to sales will not be considered as Great Sites.
  • A good site should enrich the user’s experience and expand the imagination. Sites promoting social biases rather than enlarging the views of the child should not be considered Great Sites.

C. Design and Stability: A Great Site Has Personality and Strength of Character.

  • The information on the site should be easy to find and easy to use.
  • The site design should be appealing to its intended audience.
  • The text should be easy to read, and not cluttered with distracting graphics, fonts, and backgrounds.
  • Users should be able to get around the site easily.
  • Pages consisting mainly of links should be well-organized and appealing to young people, and the collected links should be well-chosen and useful to children exploring the subject.
  • The site’s design should be appropriate for the intended audience.
  • The site should be ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant, as much as possible.
  • A game or recreational site should have a clear interface and playing instructions.
  • The page should load in a reasonable amount of time.
  • The page should be consistently available and load without problems; stability is important.
  • Required “plug-ins” or other helper applications should be clearly identified.
  • The design elements and features on the site, such as searchable databases, animations, graphics, sound files, introductory and transitional pages, etc., should enhance and not hinder the accessibility and enjoyment of the site.
  • The interactive features should be explained clearly.
  • A user should not need to pay a fee or type in personal information (such as his/her name or e-mail address) before using the site.

D. Content: A Great Site Shares Meaningful and Useful Content that Educates, Informs, or Entertains.

  • The title of a site should be appropriate to its purpose.
  • A site’s content should be easy to read and understand by its intended audience.
  • There should be enough information to make visiting the site worthwhile.
  • If there are large amounts of information on the site, some kind of search function should be provided. There should be at least an outline of topics covered, allowing the users to find topics and move among them easily.
  • Spelling and grammar always should be correct.
  • The information should be current and accurate, and if the topic of the site is one that changes, it should be updated regularly. A “last updated” date is a plus.
  • Links to more information on the topic should be provided.
  • Graphics on the site should be relevant and appropriate to the content.
  • The subject matter should be relevant to and appropriate for the intended audience.
  • The viewpoint presented should be comprehensible to the intended audience.
  • The skills required to use the site’s features and structure should be appropriate or appropriately challenging for its intended audience.
  • In informational sites, especially those used to support school assignments, quality of content should be most important. Appealing sites for general audiences that are accessible to young people sometimes provide the highest-quality content.
  • Some sites, such as health and life-education sites, may include mature content. Such material should be developmentally appropriate to the information needs of youth.