Location and Access: Evaluate Sources Early and Often

Author: Marley Winningham

When working with the Big6™ research process, I have found that it is beneficial for my students and me to insert an evaluation stage in between Big6 3.1, Locate sources and Big6 3.2, Find information within the sources. Even though there is already an evaluation stage in Big6 2.2, Select the best sources, I have found that this stage (2.2) only tends to address the best types of sources to use such as print, electronic, personal interview, primary and so forth. However, once you have gathered the sources in Big6 3.1, you may need to determine whether or not they are high-quality sources before executing stage Big6 3.2. One way to do this is by conducting a cursory examination of the materials. This intermediate stage I suggest gets students to evaluate both print and Internet resources and to explain why they would use a resource by using these rubrics, which I call CAARS and CLAAASS. (downloadble pdf: CAARS and CLAAASS RUBRIC Marley_Big6_article)

Source evaluations like these can help students to think about the quality of the information they use. This is especially important for any students who may perceive Google as an infinite source of unquestionable truths.

If your students think as mine do, consider using an evaluation between stages Big6 3.1, Locate sources and Big6 3.2, Find information within the sources to determine whether or not your source is worth the effort of finding information within and extracting the relevant data.