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Teach How to Evaluate Sources in Social Sciences


Social Studies ELA: Reading ^21st Century Skills Middle/High School Strategy


Flexible Thinking Verbal Reasoning Abstract Reasoning

Teach How to Evaluate Sources in Social Sciences

Teach It!

  1. Objective: Students will critically evaluate the quality of their sources. This framework for the social sciences can help them evaluate and use appropriate references.
  2. Direct Instruction: Guide students to evaluate the quality of their sources by having them consider the following questions when they read and do research.
  3. Sourcing: Who is the author and what qualifications does s/he have to be writing on this topic? Could the author have any relationships or interests that might lead them to provide an inaccurate or biased version of events? While it is fine to read authors with different points of view, understanding potential bias and selective use of facts is critical to drawing accurate conclusions.
  4. Contextualization: What are the social, geo-political, and economic circumstances and norms at the time and location of the topic being presented and when was the article written? Societal views change over time. An understanding of the context is critical in interpreting any individual's actions or the importance of a given event. Students who do not have a rich knowledge of the historical circumstances should be encouraged to ask many questions rather than make assumptions.
  5. Corroboration: As you write your own paper, consider how you can be certain if your conclusions are accurate. Have you referenced multiple reliable sources and thought about the similarities and differences in what is presented. Authors must select what details they choose to include and what they omit.

Why It Works (the Science Of Learning)!

While the above methods have always been important, the ease of access to digital information has created a need for students to be very adept at critically analyzing anything they read before accepting facts and drawing conclusions. Teachers can find free curriculum and resources to develop these skills at Stanford History Education Group.