Who should I believe?

Mrs. Loeffler and Ms. Wyssenbach have had their classes doing some research on various planets.  The classes have either divided up in groups or done the research individually, but in both cases, the class reconvened toward the end of class time to discuss and share their findings.

As part of this exercise, we started discussions about credibility of information sources.  Is ask.com a better source about the surface material of Mars than NASA’s Mars rover site?  Is a newspaper article about a research project more credible than a report from the researchers themselves?  At first, this seemed to be a new idea to many students, but when we framed it in terms of everyday life… for example, who would you trust more for directions to get some place?  Someone who goes there every day, or someone who went there once a long time ago?   When they put it in the context of their day-to-day experience, this seemed to really click.

It was apparent that most students do not inherently consider the credibility of the sources of their information, so I think this kind of practice is great training in logical/scientific thinking.



About Robert C Everhart

GK-12 Fellow University of Kansas
This entry was posted in 2011-2012 GK12, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Who should I believe?

  1. Greetings,

    I was very interested to run across this thoughtful post today, especially in light of the fact that thousands of K-12 students use our sites (Ask.com and AskKids.com) to gather information for school purposes.

    We definitely agree that going to the source is the best way to gain accurate data — in the example cited above, NASA’s excellent Mars Rover site — but comparing NASA’s site to Ask.com (or any other search engine) isn’t entirely an apples-to-apples comparison. While sites such as NASA’s provide direct content, sites like ours provide dynamic listings of relevant content all over the Internet. This would include NASA’s site(s) as well as the European Space Agency, scholastic astronomy research sites, and probably a whole lot of others; from among those diverse sources, students and their instructors can decide what to accept as reliable.

    One such way Ask.com improves the overall research experience in the K-12 realm is often by bringing in news article results on whatever topic is being researched. The value here is that a majority of news articles are often written to be understood by a majority of people (or “plain English,” so to speak). NASA does a brilliant job of reporting its findings, and while most of its writings are easily understood, they can at times assume higher levels of understanding than many K-12 students possess. News articles and other dynamic content on the same subject can help students (and older people alike, for that matter) grasp the concepts with far more clarity. I believe this is why so many educators turn to our sites as important research tools in their classrooms.

    Ask.com Brand Ambassador

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