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Thursday, July 19 • 11:30am - 12:30pm
The Container Conundrum: Using a contextual approach to source evaluation

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UNM librarians consider a source evaluation method that shifts the focus from truth to trust and from content to context, thereby centering the Authority is Constructed and Contextual and Information Creation as a Process frames from the ACRL Framework. The recent proliferation of “fake news” and misinformation prompts us to ask: Can the Framework help us develop a straightforward and substantive approach to source evaluation?

Data collected through UNM’s first year instruction program indicates that students often struggle to make judgments about information content, including language, argument, accuracy, and purpose, which can hinder students’ attempts to determine a source’s relevance and value. Student evaluation of information can also be influenced by emotional predispositions and biases that may lead to less objective source evaluations. Instead of focusing our efforts on the content of a source and attempting to determine whether or not it represents “the truth,” we help students evaluate a source’s context to assess whether to trust the information a source conveys. We concentrate on:

• concrete fact-checking techniques—e.g. lateral and upstream reading/research—to assess authority, and
• a new conceptualization of format, informed by genre theory, to help students assess the purpose of a source and the underlying processes that result in its creation.

Focusing evaluative efforts on the “container” also offers students some distance from potentially inflammatory content. As students adapt fact-checking techniques to quickly scan multiple sources and become more familiar with various information formats, they will be able to more readily understand and effectively use sources.

avatar for Stephanie Beene

Stephanie Beene

Assistant Professor, Fine Arts Librarian for Art, Architecture, and Planning, University of New Mexico
avatar for Amy Jankowski

Amy Jankowski

Assistant Professor and Life Sciences Librarian, The University of New Mexico
avatar for Alyssa Russo

Alyssa Russo

Learning Services Librarian, Assistant Professor, University of New Mexico
avatar for Lori Townsend

Lori Townsend

Learning Services Coordinator, University of New Mexico

Thursday July 19, 2018 11:30am - 12:30pm MDT
University Center 221