Suggested course level
Lower level undergraduate
- Students will learn to evaluate the trustworthiness of sources.
- Internet connection
- Put students in groups of 4 or 5.
- Ask students to look on their social media feeds or websites they routinely visit for content that they think might not be trustworthy. This could be a meme, an ad or an article. Those who don’t use social media can work with a partner.
- Ask students to share their piece of untrustworthy content within their groups and reflect on what made them think the piece of content might not be trustworthy.
- Each group will then choose one piece of content to research. (This activity works for the CRAAP test, but it also works for other information literacy frameworks).
- You have two options for how to arrange the activity from here:
- Ask the group to try to prove that the piece of content they’ve selected is untrustworthy.
- Give them a bit more structure by giving each group member a different question such as, “Why was this piece of content put online?” “How does the author of this content make money?” “How is the author trying to convince you of their point? Are their claims accurate?” “How does the author use visuals?”
- At the end of the activity, each group will present their findings and/or write a short memo explaining what they discovered. If you have extra time, you can also have the groups exchange memos, then double-check each others’ work.
Debrief questions / activities
- Why do you think this piece of content was not believable? Why do you think someone wanted to believe it?
- What surprised you the most about this activity?
- What research strategy was most helpful in proving/disproving your piece of content?
- Find your own pieces of false information. I often do this activity with health memes (such as David Avocado Wolfe) and explicitly tell students that the information is false.
Tags: persuasive messages, research and documentation, information literacy, discussion, small group, self-reflection, social media