Validity and reliability of information on the Internet
A curriculum for critical thinking and web research
This plan is part of a
Skill level: Intermediate
critical thinking and web
School level: Middle school (11–13 years old) research curriculum
High school (14–18 years old) developed by the International
Society for Technology in Education
Prerequisite skills needed (ISTE) and Microsoft.
Students need to have basic computer use skills, such as www.microsoft.com/ education/criticalthinking
the ability to launch Internet Explorer®, type into search
boxes, and navigate the Internet. In addition, students
need the skills necessary to conduct effective Internet searches. (For ideas and information,
see the “Mechanics of effective searching” lesson plans). Students should be able to
determine the authors and timeliness of Internet sites.
Synopsis of lesson
Teachers develop a project within their content area aligned to their state/district standards
that requires students to conduct research using the Bing™ search engine. Students develop
the skills to effectively and efficiently search Internet sites using Bing, in addition to the
skills necessary to determine the validity and reliability of the information they locate.
Students will learn how to validate the accuracy and content of a website.
Rationale for lesson
Anyone can publish information to the web. Because of this, students need to develop the
skills necessary to determine the validity and reliability of the information located there.
These skills can help them decide which resources to use for academic research and projects.
Before websites can be considered valid, students need to determine the accuracy and
content of those sites.
Essential concepts / questions
Essential questions for teachers:
♦ How can I ensure that my students are able to determine the validity and reliability of
information found on the Internet?
♦ How can I ensure that my students are able to determine the accuracy of the content
on Internet sites?
Essential question for students:
♦ How can I determine the accuracy of content on Internet sites?
National Educational Technology Standards (NETS)
♦ 4A: Advocate, model, and teach safe, legal, and ethical use of digital information and
technology, including respect for copyright, intellectual property, and the appropriate
documentation of sources.
♦ 3B: Locate, organize, analyze, evaluate, synthesize, and ethically use information from
a variety of sources and media.
♦ Teachers should familiarize themselves with the Bing (http://www.bing.com) search
♦ Teachers should work with the lab coordinator or media specialist to determine lab
logistics, level of access per student, and seating arrangements.
♦ Teachers need to develop clear criteria for the project, including guiding questions to
be addressed by students’ research, and a project scoring rubric, including criteria for
use of technology (for example, the number of resources and images required, or how
to cite sources).
◊ See the “Citing web sources” lesson plans for ideas.
♦ If students are working in cooperative groups, teachers should develop specific roles
and responsibilities that provide for individual and group accountability.
♦ Teachers should have experience applying the questions in “Validity – Student
handout 1: Questions to identify validity and reliability of Internet sites” to their own
Teachers must consider student arrangement in labs; if students are to locate media files,
where those files will be stored; and how much time will be allotted. Teachers should
determine where students will store their work (possibilities include folders on the school
server or on Windows Live™ SkyDrive™). To reduce off-task behavior, teachers should
develop criteria to guide students’ searches.
Teachers should demonstrate how to determine the validity and reliability of Internet sites.
They can do this by using the bias and resource questions in “Validity - Student handout 1:
Questions to identify validity and reliability of Internet sites” as a guide.
Teachers should demonstrate for students how to complete “Validity – Student worksheet 2:
Accuracy and content.”
Student activities / guidance
Students conduct searches based on the assigned topic or guiding questions. As they locate
sites related to their topic, they refer to the bias and resource questions in “Validity -
Student handout 1: Questions to identify validity and reliability of Internet sites.” As guided
practice, students record sites used and they log information concerning the accuracy and
content of sites on “Validity – Student worksheet 2: Accuracy and content.”
♦ Completed worksheet: “Validity – Student worksheet 2: Accuracy and content.”
♦ Students reflect on their own searches and answer the essential question:
◊ How can I determine the accuracy of content on Internet sites?
Related resources and tutorials
♦ Bing User Guide: How to use Bing
♦ Information about the Bing search engine
♦ Windows Live SkyDrive