Critical Thinking 101 The Basics Of Evaluating Information Resources

LIB 101 is an introduction to the principles, concepts, and practices of information literacy, including the critical thinking skills necessary to identify, evaluate, and use diverse information sources effectively. LIB 101 is a practical way to get the experience you need to do in-depth research or find the answers to elusive questions. Below, you will find a course description and objectives, as well as some highlights of the course.

Course Description: Designed to introduce basic information literacy skills, this course consists of lectures, class discussions, hands-on activities and practical exercises on how to properly and effectively locate and use information.

Course Objectives:

  • Identify a variety of types and formats of potential sources of information.
  • Understand the value and nature of information and how it is organized.
  • Effectively search for information using both print and electronic resources.
  • Evaluate information and its sources critically.
  • Organize information and use it effectively.
  • Cite sources following accepted citation styles and avoid plagiarism.

Highlights:

  • 3-hour credit course
  • Online class
  • Fulfills a general educational requirement
  • Learn how to use informational materials effectively and efficiently

Bias is a "prejudice in favor of or against one thing, person, or group compared with another, usually in a way considered to be unfair" or "a predisposition either for or against something" (The New Oxford American Dictionary, 2nd ed., p. 159). In addition to looking for bias in an information source, consider your own assumptions and predispositions for a particular point of view.

Bias can be reflected through:

Word Choice - Subtle differences in expressions, syntax and diction can signal bias. Look for differences when comparing two articles [or documents] on the same subject.

Omitted Information - Stories, facts and details need to be complete and verified to offer the most objective and informed picture.

Omissions -- intentional and unintentional -- create slanted and/or incomplete pictures. Watch for differing information and the use of anonymous information for clues.

Framing - Framing is about context and how information is presented. Facts may be presented, but they may be put into a context/situation/pattern that emphasizes or de-emphasizes certain elements. Framing can be committed by manipulating the ideas or the actual physical location of an article.

Sources - Where is the article [or document] getting its information? Fair reporting will offer information that comes from a multitude of sources (most of them identifiable) and a variety of constituencies. Relying on just one source or unnamed sources can compromise reliability. Using sources with a vested interest in the topic or omitting source affiliations can slant.

Spin - Offering details or perspectives favorable to one side without adequate time/space/debate for alternate views.

(From Detecting Bias, Miller Library, Keystone College; used with permission)

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