CEC Theses and Dissertations

Title

The Efficacy of a Web Site Evaluation Checklist as a Pedagogical Approach for Teaching Students to Critically Evaluate Internet Content

Date of Award

2007

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Computing Technology in Education (DCTE)

Department

Graduate School of Computer and Information Sciences

Advisor

Steven R. Terrell

Committee Member

Timothy Ellis

Committee Member

Maxine S. Cohen

Abstract

Although the growth of the Internet has provided access to an enormous amount of previously inaccessible information, a large amount of information of dubious credibility appears online. Prior to the proliferation of the Internet, much of the informational material that a person came into contact with had been subject to a system of editorial checks and balances. Anyone can now publish information online for millions of people to access.

In response, several educational associations have proposed that the teaching of information literacy be a priority in our schools. A common method provided for teaching Web site evaluation is the evaluation checklist. The checklists that currently exist in the literature tend to differ widely in their design.

This evaluative research study utilized a systems approach to evaluation to create a valid and reliable Web site evaluation checklist for use with secondary level students. Students and teachers were asked to evaluate a selected set of Web sites using the checklist. The data was analyzed and conclusions were drawn as to the design elements that were most appropriate for inclusion in a checklist instrument as well as how students' and teachers' evaluations of Web sites compared when using the checklist.

The results suggested that the criteria included for evaluation in this checklist were appropriate for evaluation in this context. A comparison of teacher and student responses identified areas where students had difficulty evaluating the information they encountered. Student responses suggested that they had particular difficulty in identifying persuasive elements and bias when they were present on Web site used for classroom research.

Guided practice with real world problems is one strategy utilized in secondary level classrooms to assist students in developing their skill in critical thinking. The results here suggest that students need additional practice with critical thinking skills in the context of Web site evaluation and that this checklist can be an appropriate tool for guiding students in this pursuit if it is part of a structured classroom activity that includes modeling and guidance. Additionally, several recommendations were made for further study of this checklist and for alternate designs of checklists.

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