Teaching adult learners how to systematically evaluate sources prepares them to navigate information in an increasingly complex, digital world. It is important to help adult learners understand why they need to evaluate the trustworthiness of a source, equip them with strategies to do so, and give them ample opportunities to practice these essential information and Digital Literacy skills. As learners develop skills and strategies for evaluating sources for authenticity and relevance, they are further developing their Reasoning and Metacognitive skills.
To instill the practices for evaluating sources effectively, instructors need to explicitly teach these skills and integrate them into their curricula. Introducing concepts like "relevance, accuracy, bias, and reliability" and using these terms regularly as a part of classroom discourse can help learners get used to questioning sources and the motivations authors may have. Modeling how to evaluate online information by showing the steps one would take to identify bias and determine if a source is reliable can show what this process entails. Encouraging learners to practice these think-alouds allows them to remember the steps in their Long-term Memory. Working with the adults to create reliability checklists that they can regularly use for evaluating sources allows them to self-monitor their use of the strategies, fostering Metacognition.
Teaching learners web-based reading strategies specifically for evaluating sources such as lateral reading also improves their Foundational Reading Skills along with critical thinking and Problem Solving. Helping adults see how the criteria for evaluating sources look different in different disciplines like history or science builds their Disciplinary Literacy. Learners should understand how different biases can impact their evaluation of sources and be taught to look for sources that offer multiple perspectives.
Developers can create experiences where adult learners are guided to explicitly evaluate and rate the sources they read and/or cite. They can also have adult learners practice evaluating sources in a game-based or gamified challenge.
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