Research court in session: actively learning information evaluation skills - Anna Fidgeon.
Research court in session: actively learning information evaluation skills
Anna Fidgeon, California State University, Northridge, firstname.lastname@example.org
Previously, my library instruction sessions focused mainly on academic and library-centered research. Most
undergraduate students do not go on to careers in academia nor do they have access to a large range of
academic library resources post-graduation. I brainstormed ways to teach students important critical thinking
skills using a range of sources, and especially how information is created and by whom.
I developed Research Court, a half-hour exercise in finding and evaluating sources. Students are divided into
teams, and each team is given a different citation for a resource that is relevant to the course they are in, but
usually includes a scholarly article, a popular article, a book, and a website (usually Wikipedia). Evaluation
techniques are quickly discussed, using the CRAAP test as an example. Each group is then responsible for
finding the full text of their resource and presenting an argument to their classmates on how this resource could
be used in research, based on how it is created. Classmates who are not presenting are encouraged to ask
presenters evaluative questions.
This exercise not only strengthens students’ information evaluation skills, it helps them understand why different
contexts demand different kinds of information. As educated citizens, these skills will be necessary their entire
lives. Research Court is quick enough that it leaves enough time in a 75-minute library instruction session to also
go over immediate research needs, such as using a library database. Doing the exercise also allows the
instructor to get a sense of what the students do and don’t understand and instruct accordingly.
After one semester of incorporating this activity into my instruction sessions, student evaluations have been
positive. This Teachmeet will quickly introduce the Research Court lesson plan so that attendees may
incorporate the lesson or parts of it into their own institution’s information literacy curriculum.