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MDM4 9984D - COVID-19 / Pandemic Elective

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Evaluating Resources - The CRAAP Test / Meriam Library, California State University

Searching for information on a very current or controversial topic can result in a large number of "hits" of uneven quality.

You will have to determine the quality of the information you find, and the CRAAP Test can help.

The CRAAP Test is a list of questions to help you evaluate the information you find. Different criteria will be more or less important depending on your situation or need.

Evaluation Criteria

Currency: The timeliness of the information.

  • When was the information published or posted?
  • Has the information been revised or updated?
  • Does your topic require current information, or will older sources work as well?
  • Are the links functional?

Relevance: The importance of the information for your needs.

  • Does the information relate to your topic or answer your question?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Is the information at an appropriate level (i.e. not too elementary or advanced for your needs)?
  • Have you looked at a variety of sources before determining this is the one you will use?
  • Would you be comfortable citing this source in your research paper?

Authority: The source of the information.

  • Who is the author / publisher / source / sponsor?
  • What are the author's credentials or organizational affiliations?
  • Is the author qualified to write on the topic?
  • Is there contact information, such as a publisher or email address?
  • Does the URL reveal anything about the author or source (examples: .com .edu .gov .org .net)?

Accuracy: The reliability, truthfulness and correctness of the content.

  • Where does the information come from?
  • Is the information supported by evidence?
  • Has the information been reviewed or refereed?
  • Can you verify any of the information in another source or from personal knowledge?
  • Does the language or tone seem unbiased and free of emotion?
  • Are there spelling, grammar or typographical errors?

Purpose: The reason the information exists.

  • What is the purpose of the information? Is it to inform, teach, sell, entertain or persuade?
  • Do the authors / sponsors make their intentions or purpose clear?
  • Is the information fact, opinion or propaganda?
  • Does the point of view appear objective and impartial?
  • Are there political, ideological, cultural, religious, institutional or personal biases?

PDF Version of the CRAAP Test

Revised from "Is this source or information good?" Accessed 3/27/2020.
https://library.csuchico.edu/help/source-or-information-good

CRAAP Test Video - by OU librarian Beth Wallis

Other Helpful Tools for Evaluating Resources

Self-Directed Learning - From the University of Waterloo, Centre for Teaching Excellence

Self-Directed Learning: A Four-Step Process

Learning independently can be challenging, even for the brightest and most motivated students. As a means of better understanding the processes involved in this mode of study, this Teaching Tip outlines key components of four key stages to independent learning, known as self-directed learning: being ready to learn, setting learning goals, engaging in the learning process, and evaluating learning.

Step 1: Assess readiness to learn

Students need various skills and attitudes towards learning for successful independent study. This step involves students conducting a self-evaluation of their current situation, study habits, family situation, and support network both at school and at home and also involves evaluating past experiences with independent learning. For a detailed Learning Skills Assessment Tool, read our Readiness to Learn Teaching Tip. Signs of readiness for self-directed learning include being autonomous, organised, self-disciplined, able to communicate effectively, and able to accept constructive feedback and engage in self-evaluation and self­-reflection.

Step 2: Set learning goals

Communication of learning goals between a student and the advising instructor is critical. We've developed a set of questions for students to consider as they map out their learning goals: our Unit Planning Decision Guide). Also critical in developing a clear understanding of learning goals between students and instructors are learning contracts. Learning contracts generally include:

  • Goals for the unit of study
  • Structure and sequence of activities
  • Timeline for completion of activities
  • Details about resource materials for each goal
  • Details about grading procedures
  • Feedback and evaluation as each goal is completed
  • Meeting plan with the advising instructor
  • Agreement of unit policies, such as a policy on late assignments

Once created, contracts should be assessed by the advising faculty member and questions about feasibility should be raised (e.g., What could go wrong? Is there too much or too little work? Is the timeline and evaluation reasonable?).

Step 3: Engage in the learning process

Students need to understand themselves as learners in order to understand their needs as self-directed learning students — referring students to our resource on learning preferences may be helpful. Students should also consider answering the following questions:

  • What are my needs re: instructional methods?
  • Who was my favourite teacher? Why?
  • What did they do that was different from other teachers? Students should reflect on these questions throughout their program and substitute “teacher” with “advising instructor”

Students also need to understand their approach to studying:

  • A deep approach to studying involves transformation and is ideal for self-directed learning. This approach is about understanding ideas for yourself, applying knowledge to new situations and using novel examples to explain a concept, and learning more than is required for unit completion.
  • A surface approach involves reproduction: coping with unit requirements, learning only what is required to complete a unit in good standing, and tending to regurgitate examples and explanations used in readings.
  • A strategic approach involves organization: achieving the highest possible grades, learning what is required to pass exams, memorizing facts, and spending time practicing from past exams.

Earlier academic work may have encouraged a surface or strategic approach to studying. These approaches will not be sufficient (or even appropriate) for successful independent study. Independent study requires a deep approach to studying, in which students must understand ideas and be able to apply knowledge to new situations. Students need to generate their own connections and be their own motivators.

Step 4: Evaluate learning

For students to be successful in self-directed learning, they must be able to engage in self-reflection and self-evaluation of their learning goals and progress in a unit of study. To support this self-evaluation process, they should:

  • regularly consult with the advising instructor,
  • seek feedback, and
  • engage in reflection of their achievements, which involves asking:
    • How do I know I’ve learned?
    • Am I flexible in adapting and applying knowledge?
    • Do I have confidence in explaining material?
    • When do I know I’ve learned enough?
    • When is it time for self-reflection and when is it time for consultation with the advising faculty member?

Responsibilities in the four-step process

Successful independent study requires certain responsibilities or roles of both students and advising faculty members. The following is a brief list of the more important roles. It is useful for both students and advising faculty members to periodically review this list and communicate as to whether each feels the other is fulfilling their share of the responsibility.

Students’ roles

  • Self-assess your readiness to learn
  • Define your learning goals and develop a learning contract
  • Monitor your learning process
  • Take initiative for all stages of the learning process — be self-motivated 
  • Re-evaluate and alter goals as required during your unit of study
  • Consult with your advising instructor as required

Advising instructors’ roles

  • Build a co-operative learning environment
  • Help to motivate and direct the students’ learning experience
  • Facilitate students’ initiatives for learning
  • Be available for consultations as appropriate during the learning process
  • Serve as an advisor rather than a formal instructor

Self-Directed Learning Resources

Teaching Tips (from the University of Waterloo, Centre for Teaching Excellence):

Other Resources:

  • Graves, N. (Ed.) (1993). Learner managed learning: Practice, theory, and policy. Leeds: AW Angus & Co. Limited.
  • Hammond, M. & Collins, R. (1991). Self-directed learning: Critical practice. London: Kogan Page Limited.
  • Hiemstra, R. Self-directed web portal.
  • Kim, R., Olfman, L., Ryan, T., & Eryilmaz, E. (2014). Leveraging a personalized system to improve self-directed learning in online educational environmentsComputers & Education, 70, 150-160.
  • Knowles, M. (1986). Using learning contracts: Practical approaches to individualizing and structuring learning. London: Jossey-Bass Publications.
  • Simpson, O. (2000). Supporting students in open and distant learning. London: Kogan Page Limited. 
  • Tait, J. & Knight, P. (1996). The management of independent learning. London: Kogan Page Limited.