Evaluation Methods in Education: Web Evaluation

Information Timeline

The timeline in which information is published impacts what you find. For example, the day of an event you can find messages on Twitter, but you won't find a comprehensive study. A year after an event you may be able to find the first longer, more scholarly sources on the topic. This list is ordered from most immediate to least, which coincides with least researchd/contextualized to most. To some extent, this also moves from primary to secondary to teritary resources as well. 

  1. Social Media
  2. News oriented websites
  3. Newspapers
  4. Weekly magazines
  5. Magazines
  6. Popular nonfiction books
  7. Scholarly articles
  8. Scholarly books
  9. Reference resources 

Quicklist for Websites

  • URL/Domain?
  • Who wrote the page? What authority does the author have?
  • Is there a date? Is it current, timely?
  • Is information cited? Do the citations exist?
  • Does the page have overall integrity and reliability as a source?
  • What's the bias?
  • Could the page or site be ironic, like a satire or a spoof?
  • If you have questions or reservations, how can you satisfy them?

Wikipedia and Google

Wikipedia and Google provide a huge amount of information, but it's information that hasn't been vetted. Anyone can contribute to Wikipedia and Google automatically indexes millions of web pages.

That being said, Wikipedia and Google can be helpful tools for getting started in your research. Both can help you identify keywords or synonyms that might be helpful in your search. Wikipedia often includes bibliographies that include refereed articles. You can use this as a starting reading list that leads to other useful sources. 

Evaluating Websites

Before you begin to use the Internet for your research, answer the following questions.

  1. Is the resource or information likely to be found on the Internet?
  2. Where is the resource or information located on the Internet? And when you find something, then answer:
  3. Is the resource or information accurate, objective, current, thorough, and reliable? Remember, there are over 533 million people on the Internet (Computer Industry Almanac), and any of them can add (mis)information to the Web!

There are a number of guides to help you determine the validity and usefulness of information. Here's one of our favorites: 

Other Online Tools

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Overview of Virginia Tech University Libraries

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Accessing Materials

Scholarly Workflows