As with any source, websites vary when it comes to presenting high
quality information about a particular topic. Since websites are
frequently used for research, students should learn how to evaluate the
sites they encounter. This activity provides a framework for evaluating
websites as sources of information.
- Before the class begins, choose several websites you want students
to evaluate. You may want to write their addresses on the board or
hyperlink them in an email you send to the students or other document
you can give them. You should also create a handout or web-based
document they can access that has a chart on it. One axis would include
each of the websites to evaluate. The other would have the evaluation
criteria listed below. Students will use this sheet to record their
notes and scores.
- In addition, either print the documents below or establish a way for students to access them online.
- When class begins, ask students to review the analysis guides and to note the definitions of the following terms:
- Assign students to groups of three, giving each student in each
group a letter. Each letter corresponds to a category or categories, as
- A = authority and accuracy
- O = objectivity
- C = currency and coverage
- Tell students to work independently, and visit each of the
designated websites you assign. Students should evaluate each site based
on the assigned category or categories. Students should select a score
of 0-3 to each site in their assigned category or categories (with 0
being the lowest and 3 being the highest or best score). Use the
following guidelines in the scoring process:
- 0 = does not meet the criteria
- 1 = meets some of the criteria
- 2 = meets most of the criteria relevant to this particular site
- 3 = meets or exceeds the relevant criteria for this particular site
- Ask students to share their findings with the other members of their
group and explain why they gave each site the score that they did. Then
ask students to add up the total of points each site received (from all
group members) and write the total score in the last column of the
- Conclude the activity with a whole-class discussion. Questions to consider:
- Was the website with the highest score the “best” site? What made it a good site?
- Would you use the websites? Why or why not?
- Is there any value in using the website that received the lowest score? Why or why not?
- How will the process of evaluating these websites assist you in understanding the case or subject we are studying?
- How will you use this website evaluation guide in the future?