We won't be fooled again: Teaching critical thinking via evaluation of hoax and historical revisionist websites in a library credit course

Stephanie M. Mathson, Michael G. Lorenzen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations

Abstract

At Central Michigan University, librarians teach multiple sections of an eight-week, one-credit research skills class to hundreds of undergraduate students each semester. While the main focus of the course is to teach students how to find, use, and properly cite library resources, librarians also address critical thinking skills by designing lessons to teach World Wide Web organization and how to analyze the information found via search engines. Showing student's obvious hoax sites about tree octopi and male pregnancy introduces the concepts of critical thinking and Website analysis. Most students quickly refute the information on such sites. However, students have a more difficult time assessing social, historical, or political revisionist Web sites' validity. Contrasting those claims with evidence accepted by international courts, historians, and scientists is useful in pointing out the flaws of seemingly well documented but one-sided revisionist sites. There are dangers in exposing students to these groups via their Websites. Yet, it is important to do so in order to convey the importance of critical analysis of information. The authors discuss students' pre- and post-test (CMU's online assessment tool, the research readiness self-assessment [RRSA]) scores to determine whether critical thinking skills have improved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)211-230
Number of pages20
JournalCollege and Undergraduate Libraries
Volume15
Issue number1-2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 8 2008

Keywords

  • Critical thinking
  • History
  • Information literacy
  • Library instruction
  • Web evaluation

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