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FYS-101 Information Literacy Lessons 2023-24

This guide contains the information literacy lessons for the SNHU First Year Seminar FYS-101 course offered on campus for the 2023-24 academic year.

Evaluating Information


Personal Information Evaluation Strategy

Whole Class 

Discuss Homework and record responses on whiteboard.

  • What evaluation strategies do you use when you do a Google Search? 
  • How do you decide which result(s) to click on?
  • How can you tell a source is legitimate, factual, and trustworthy?

Discuss Source Type in Source Evaluation

  • Does knowing whether a source is primary or secondary influence the way you evaluate it?
    • Would you evaluate a painting of George Washington the same way you evaluate an article about his views on slavery?
  • Do you evaluate news or articles that offer information or assessments of important issues with the same or different tools than you would use for historical primary sources? 

Key Elements for Source Evaluation

Evaluating a source of information depends on what type of source it is, and what type of information you are looking for.

Context of the information

All information is created in a particular context (at a particular point in time), as we learned in the Information Cycle, and will be viewed and used differently during the time in which it is created compared to the future.

  • Example: A newspaper article during the Civil War (primary source) may report on an event with the information available to the newspaper at that time. Decades later that article may be evaluated differently with the perspective of time and further context (bias of the newspaper's owner/community, who funded the newspaper, more information about the event from other sources, etc.).

Information need

How you evaluate information may depend on your information need.

  • Example: If you need information about the Confederacy's perspective on slavery, you will be looking for information put out by the Confederate government that has a particular bias, as opposed to factual information that documents a variety of viewpoints.
  • Example: If you are looking for the most current, informed perspective on slavery in the United States, then you will be looking for current, accurate information created by experts in the field who have studied slavery over time.
  • Example: You see a video on TikTok from your go-to influencer that shows the health benefits of eating chicken wings. If you need an argument to support going to Buffalo Wild Wings with your friends this weekend, you might accept that video’s claim and share it out. If you’re writing an essay for ENG120 on the nutritional value of commonly eaten foods in the US, you might use that video to show one perspective on chicken wings. After exploring why your favorite influencer made that video, you learn they’re sponsored by Purdue. Evaluating that same source with a different information need, you might decide to locate other sources on chicken wing nutrition to include in your essay.

Practice Source Evaluation

Meet in groups

(These are random groups, not your Collection teams)

Case Study: You have heard that recently the Supreme Court has eliminated something called "Affirmative Action" in college admissions. You have found the following article about that topic: Affirmative Action is Racist and Therefore Wrong This link opens in a new window

  • Click on the link and read the article
  • As a group, use the strategies listed in your homework to decide if the information in the article is credible and convincing, and why
  • Be ready to share your assessment

Whole Class Discussion - Group assessments

Groups share out their findings.

  • Assessment of article's credibility as a source to discuss affirmative action
  • Strategies used to evaluate the article and how they led to the group's decision

Lateral Reading


Lateral Reading is a practice that requires leaving the source you are trying to evaluate and finding out about it by looking at other (preferably trusted) sources.

Whole Class Discussion Questions

  • What does "Lateral Reading" mean?
  • What are the goals of "Lateral Reading?"

Goals & Strategies for Lateral Reading

Goal #1: Find information about who publishes the source you are trying to evaluate.

  • Look up the name of the source in Google, or in a tool like the Interactive Media Bias Chart This link opens in a new window . Type in the title of the source in the search box to the left of the chart on that webpage to see where it stands on a political bias from extreme left to extreme right, and on a factual reporting bias from original fact reporting to inaccurate/fabricated information. Video tutorial explaining the Media Bias Chart.
Media Bias chart shows graph of logos of news organizations on a left to right spectrum from very liberal to very conservative and a top to bottom spectrum from original fact reporting to fabricated information.
  • Investigate whether the author is legitimate/trustworthy (Ex: expert in the field of the article's content, an eye-witness or first-hand experiencer of the event, etc.)

Goal #2: Find out if other sources are saying the same thing as your source (corroborate the information) about the topic.

  • Search for information about the topic found in the source and choose other sources you know are reliable to verify that source's content.

Goal #3: Find out if quotes and data used in your source are accurate.

  • Look up quotes in the source you are evaluating to verify that they were spoken by the person named.
  • Look up data sources listed to verify the data is accurate and not pulled out of context.

Try Again - In your groups...

  1. Select one member of your group be the "Penman" (Ha ha!) and write down your discoveries to share in the class discussion.
  2. Use Lateral Reading on the same article, Affirmative Action is Racist and Therefore Wrong This link opens in a new window to find out about:
    • The author of the article
    • The publication - Use the Media Bias Chart This link opens in a new window
    • One claim in the article - "There are many, many different ways to achieve diversity without discriminating against Asian Americans..." Lateral Reading asks: Do other sources say the same thing about the impact of Affirmative Action on Asian Americans, or  have something different to offer? Go to this Legal Defense Fund page This link opens in a new window and click the box "Do race-conscious admissions put White and Asian students at a disadvantage?" Read the points made there.
  3. Discuss in your group: What did you learn by using Lateral Reading?

Whole Class Discussion Questions

  • Groups share out their "discoveries" made through Lateral Reading
  • How is Lateral Reading different than strategies you have used before (listed on the board)?
  • Discuss pros & cons of the various strategies you have used in the past and Lateral Reading.