Introduce source criticism with examples
Explaining why source criticism is needed, including concrete examples from the real world, may be an effective way to introduce this important subject. Websites, such as “Lead Stories” and “Snopes,” work to reveal fake news by investigating articles whose authors intentionally work to mislead readers, often to earn advertising money.
These fact-checkers’ pages feature spectacular news items that have gone viral in social media, but have later been revealed as scams. These articles can be used as an eye-opening discussion tool to foster an understanding of the importance of source criticism. While fake news may represent an extreme situation, it is nevertheless a telling example of the type of lies that regularly circulate, affecting us all.
Link source criticism to everyday problems
In order to prevent being deceived by false or misleading communication, source criticism is an approach that everyone should adopt in daily life. It’s not just about evaluating news sources, but rather all digital information. Connecting source criticism to everyday situations helps us see how it affects us all. For example, scammers commonly send out “phishing” e-mails, that pretend to come from banks or other legitimate businesses. These e-mails often request the receiver to click an embedded link, whose sole purpose is to lead you to a fraudulent website and access your personal information.
Discuss how these emails are intentionally designed to deceive. Identify the clues that they are false: For example, context—do banks send links via e-mail and ask you to click? Are there verbal and visual signals that the e-mails are false? What might be the personal consequences of neglecting source criticism and clicking on a fraudulent link? What might happen if passwords or account details are revealed? Might you lose money? Considering consequences from a personal perspective encourages interest in source criticism.
Integrate source criticism into teaching
Once students have understood why it is important to have a source-critical approach, critical thinking skills can be added to the curriculum. As with so much else, source criticism is best learned live—it can be integrated into all subjects, and will become a natural element in teaching and study. This integration makes source-critical thinking more relevant, and keeps it top-of-mind for all students.
It is more important than ever to review sources critically. Our checklist helps you determine whether an online source is trustworthy. You will learn:
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