1. This class should meet in the library. Arrange with the librarian ahead
of time to speak with the class for part of the period about the wide
range of resources available to the students as they do research about
power derived from coal and oil and alternative sources and about which
resources are generally regarded as legitimate academic and/or scholarly
sources of information.
Before the librarian speaks explain to the students that
the purpose of this class is to designate the parameters
of a reliable source when doing research. Have them make
one list in which they write down the sources that the
librarian has available to them. The librarian should
probably talk about the EBSCO indices of magazine articles,
which is the on-line version of The Reader’s Guide
to Periodic Literature. Most libraries will have EBSCO
or an equivalent database; however, The Reader’s
Guide to Periodic Literature is still being published
and some libraries may have it if their budgets don’t
allow for the EBSCO subscription. Another resource that
the library may have is SIRS. This is a compilation of
articles from legitimate newspapers and magazines arranged
by topics, mostly scientific, on a year-to-year basis.
Have the students keep a second list in which they note
any ways that the librarian tells them that they can
distinguish between a reliable source and one that may
not be. If the librarian does not go into this second
area in detail, encourage the students to ask carefully-thought
out questions to elicit this information.
After the librarian is finished with his or her presentation,
ask the students to get into pairs and to compare their
lists plus to brainstorm with each other on how to tell
if a source is reliable. For example, how reliable would
information be from a person who puts a website up on
the Internet in which claims are made with no scientific
proof, studies cited, or documented results?
At the end of the class hold a discussion with the entire
group to pull together all the ideas and information
learned from the librarian and formulated by the students
on their own. If the librarian has not brought it up,
show the students how they can use the works cited or
bibliography of a reliable source to find other equally
Discuss ways which may be obvious that something is not a quality source. How
reliable are web sites? Does the date a book or article is published matter?
Is it important for a researcher to be attached to a college or university?
As the students are working, walk around and check their lists. Assess the
depth of the students’ involvement with this lesson by the quality and
quantity of entries on their lists and how much they participate in the class