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Teaching Information Literacy at Oxford

A guide for faculty on information literacy instruction offered by Oxford library.

Source Credibility

Learning Outcomes

  • Students will be able to evaluate sources for currency, reliability, validity, accuracy, authority, and bias to determine their credibility.
  • Students will be able to explain that a resource's authoritativeness is dependent on its creator and the context in which it is created and used.
    • Students will be able to identify possible audiences, purposes, viewpoints and expertise of authors of information resources.

Learn more about library Student Learning Outcomes.

Example Activities

Students as Information Creators 1

30 mins.

Students are placed into groups of three to four and given a research topic. Each is assigned a role as an information creator (e.g. researcher, journalist). They work together to identify role-specific keywords relating to their topic. They then use these keywords to find different types of sources (e.g. newspaper article, data or statistics).

The Gossip Activity 2


25 mins.

In groups of three to four, students are asked to imagine they’ve heard something surprising about an acquaintance. They have five minutes to list criteria for determining whether the information is trustworthy. Later, each group is asked to look at a website or news item and list the criteria they would use to evaluate this source. The class then reconvenes for a discussion about student-selected criteria, whether these fit together in broader categories, and if there are any criteria that should be added to the list.

Internet Literacy 3


20 mins.

Brief introduction to finding library resources (including scholarly articles and background resources) for research. Students are asked to work in groups of three or four to research a course-related statement one might encounter online (e.g. "The Electoral College is not democratic"). They are then asked to research that statement and record their thought process. Instructor asks questions about how authority is determined.

Source Evaluation


35 mins.

Students are divided into four groups. Each group is assigned a course-related source and asked to answer questions about authoritativeness (e.g. about the author, purpose, content, intended audience) on a flip chart. Groups share their findings with the class. The instructor facilitates a discussion about source evaluation criteria.



1. Epstein, M. (2018). Grappling with Authority in First-Year Writing. In Mattson, J. & Oberlies, M. K. (Eds.), Framing Information Literacy: Teaching Grounded in Theory, Pedagogy, and Practice (591-602). Chicago: The Association of College & Research Libraries.

2. Lobdell, C. (2017). The Gossip Activity [PDF file]. Retrieved from

3. Schwartz, J. (2016). Political Internet Literacy Lesson Plan [PDF file]. Retrieved from