Module 1: Evaluating Process & Authority

This module focuses on the process of information creation and the constructed and contextual nature of source authority. There are two knowledge outcomes and three dispositions that make up this module.

  • Outcome 1.1: Apply knowledge of source creation processes and context to evaluate the authority of a source.

    Performance Indicators:

    1.1.1: Match a description of a creation process to the source type it describes.
    1.1.2: Match the source type with the amount of time it usually takes to publish it.
    1.1.3: Match the elements of a source record to what they reveal about the process used to create the source (e.g., publisher name, authors' names, date, subject terms, source type).
    1.1.4: Match a description of a review process, such as editorial and peer review, to the source type it describes.
    1.1.5: Arrange a sample set of sources into their appropriate positions on the information cycle.
    1.1.6: Match an information need to the most authoritative source types (e.g., news agency, government website, scholarly article) for fulfilling that need.
    1.1.7: Identify the audience for whom a source was created.
    1.1.8: Identify types of scholarly products and communication modes that fall outside of the typical publication processes but are still worthy of use (e.g., conference presentations, contributed papers, discussions on association websites).
    1.1.9: Identify relevant questions to ask about sources' origins and context when considering them as support for a claim.
    1.1.10: Identify factors that would compromise the authority of the peer review process.
    1.1.11: Match descriptions of popular, polemic, and primary documents to scenarios where it would be appropriate to use them.
    1.1.12: Recognize that information is created to serve varying interests of information consumers.
  • Outcome 1.2: Apply knowledge of authority to analyze others' claims and to support one's own claims

    Performance Indicators:

    1.2.1: Identify the sponsor, organization, or institution that provides support for a site.
    1.2.2: Identify relevant elements of an author's expertise.
    1.2.3: Know the importance of determining the author when evaluating the authority of a source.
    1.2.4: Recognize that polished, visually appealing presentation of web content does not equate to authoritative, high-quality content.
    1.2.5: Recognize that expertise is contextual and positional (e.g., credentials alone are not a per se indicator of author's expertise).
    1.2.6: Identify relevant questions to ask about the suitability of a source when considering it as support for a claim.
    1.2.7: Identify information directly relevant to an argument.
    1.2.8: Recognize the pitfalls of using the superficial indicator "peer review" when evaluating sources for authority.
    1.2.9: Recognize when a quote from a well-known author or recognized expert is being used by an author to gain authority.
    1.2.10: Evaluate the effectiveness of an author's use of different source types (e.g., news, research articles, blogs) to support arguments.
    1.2.11: Determine the reason why a quote is used in a given passage (e.g., show significance, give authoritative support, provide context, emphasize, summarize).
    1.2.12: Distinguish the key works cited in a passage from the peripheral works.

Disposition 1.1: Mindful self-reflection

Learners who are disposed to demonstrate self-reflection when they are evaluating sources of information consistently question their assumptions about what makes a source authoritative.

    Example behaviors:
  • Looking for features that challenge one's assumptions about the trustworthiness of one's preferred sources.
  • Questioning one's own assumptions about the reliability of traditional forms of scholarly authority.
  • Recognizing when there are good reasons to change one's position on an issue.

Disposition 1.2: Toleration of ambiguity

Learners who are disposed to demonstrate toleration for ambiguity when they are evaluating sources of information treat authority as subjective because it is based on the context of the information need.

    Example behaviors:
  • Deciding what to do when authorities disagree.
  • Flexibly using traditional and non-traditional information sources at appropriate points in the research process.
  • Treating authority as a flexible concept when information needs can only be met with less traditional sources.

Disposition 1.3: Responsibility to community

Learners who are disposed to demonstrate a sense of responsibility to their community when they are evaluating sources of information are conscientious about how they invoke authority in order to gain credibility with their audiences.

    Example behaviors:
  • Fulfilling one's responsibility to one's discourse community by using sources carefully.
  • Recognizing that the sources one is permitted to use will depend on one's discourse community.
  • Taking responsibility for critically evaluating and explaining sources' authority to one's audience when stating and standing by their claims.