Student Roles and Focus Questions

1. Content specialist:
  • Does the site cover the topic comprehensively? Accurately?
  • Can you understand what is being said? Is it written above or below your level of understanding?
  • What is unique about this site? Does it offer something others do not?
  • Are the links well-chosen? sufficient?
  • Currency: Can you tell: the date the information was created? the publication date? the date the material was last revised? Are these dates meaningful in terms of the subject matter?
  • Would you get better information in a book? an encyclopedia?
  • Would you include this site in your bibliography?
2. Authority/Credibility specialist:
  • Who is responsible for this site? Who sponsors it? Hint: truncate each section of the URL back until you are able to find the sponsor.
  • What are his/her credentials?
  • Have the authors of the site cited their own sources? Are the sources documented appropriately?
  • What is the domain name? Does it end in .com, .gov, .edu, .org, .net? Is it a personal page?
  • Is that a meaningful clue in evaluating the site? (You can't always judge a web page by its suffix. Some commercial sites provide solid information. Some university sites offer less-than-serious personal pages to graduate students.)
  • Who else links to the site? (You can perform a link check in AltaVista or Google by entering "link:webaddress" in the search box. Is it linked to by reliable sites? What do other sites say about this one?
  • Would you include this site in your bibliography?
3. Bias/purpose specialist:
  • Why was this site created? (to persuade, inform, explain, sell, promote, parody, other?)
  • Is it a personal, commercial, government or organization site?
  • Is there any bias? Is only one side of the argument presented? Does it appear that any information is purposely omitted? Is there a hidden message? Is it trying to persuade you or change your opinion? Is the bias useful to you in some way?
  • Can you distinguish facts from opinion?
  • Would you include this site in your bibliography?
4. Usability/design specialist
  • Is the site easy to navigate (user-friendly)?
  • Is there a well-labeled contents area?
  • Do all the design elements (graphics, art, buttons, etc.) enhance the message of the site? Is there consistency in the basic formats of each page?
  • Are there any errors in spelling or grammar?
  • Do the pages appear clean, uncluttered?
  • Do the links on the site work?
  • Would you include this site in your bibliography?