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Search/Evaluation Assignments

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Design a “Treasure Hunt” Search Assignment for a Course

Step 1: Choose one unit of a course and write out several relevant questions that students should be able to answer via a good web search; these questions should be directly tied to the content and goals of the unit so the assignment does not seem like mere “busy work.” Questions which are reasonably specific but not superficial and which can be answered in relatively brief paragraphs work best for this type of assignment. Notepad (or SimpleText on a Mac) can be used for this first step.

Step 2: Attempt to find the answers to these questions yourself via an internet search (if you need more information on search engines or search strategies, consult the search links on Designing Internet Assignments). Refine the questions as needed—students should not be able to find all the answers at one site, but neither should it take hours to find all the answers.

Step 3: Using a word processor or web authoring program, write out the assignment in final form. Start with Learning Goals—one goal should describe the skill being developed (ability to use search engines effectively to find information in your discipline) and the other the content being learned. Then give specific instructions for the assignment, including the final questions you have chosen (these can be copied and pasted from the Notepad/SimpleText file). The students should be required to give a proper citation for the source where they found each answer (you can refer them to Citing Electronic/Internet Resources <>). They should also be asked to include a description of the search engine and keywords they used. Finally, it will be helpful to you if the students submit this type of assignment as an e-mail attachment or via the file-sharing features of a course management program; this would make it much easier for you to check the web sites cited by the students should that be necessary.

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Design a Web Site Evaluation Assignment

Step 1: Choose one or more units of a course for which you wish to provide useful supplementary web sites with brief annotations; check to make sure that appropriate information sites on those topics are indeed available on the web. Assign each topic to an individual student or small group of students and ask them to find a specified number of web sites they would recommend for the course and a specified number that they would reject.

Step 2: Write learning goals for the assignment; these should include several of the web information literacy skills as well as goals relating to your course content.

Step 3: Using a word processor or web authoring program, write out the assignment in final form, including learning goals and a step-by-step path that students should follow in conducting this research and presenting its fruits. You should include criteria that students are to use in evaluating the web sites (see student tutorials). Ask students to cite each site accurately (you can refer them to Citing Electronic/Internet Resources <>) and to include a very brief description of site contents. Most importantly, students should write out an evaluation of each site, using the criteria you have specified to indicate why they have chosen or rejected the site. For the sites they have chosen to recommend, they should also explain why they think this site would make an important contribution to students' understanding of the course unit. Depending on the nature of the course and the equipment available in the classroom, groups could demonstrate their findings to the class and conduct a discussion of them. Or the groups could use the file-sharing features of a course-management program to post their reports and other students could be asked to read and critique them. In any case, well chosen and described links can be added to the course web page or syllabus, which gives the students an incentive and a sense that they have made a contribution to the course.

Click here for a sample Web Site Evaluation assignment.

Barbara F. McManus,
The College of New Rochelle
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