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Posts Tagged ‘evaluation’

Critical Appraisal & Evaluation Skills

Posted by selinalock on 14 April, 2010

We had an interesting training session on Monday, run by our colleague Keith Nockels about critical appraisal. Keith went through the session he teaches to various medical and science undergraduates and postgraduates.

We had a really good discussion about based around appraising paper on crows using automobiles as nutcrackers!  Keith had found one of the difficulties with teaching critical appraisal was finding papers which people from various disciplines could discuss, hence the crow paper.

It made us think about whether the medical/science criteria could be applied to other subjects. For example, arts might be more interested in who’s writing the paper and their reputation, over the exact nature of the paper.

We would like to place more emphasis on appraisal and evaluation skills in future. Especially as studies, such as the Digital Information Seeker Report, still suggest that information literacy skills are lacking.  Plus, search technology is still moving towards resource discovery and single search boxes to search across many resources. To user the search seems easy so we need to make sure that they look more closely at the results they are finding.

We already include some evaluation skills in our sessions but there is certainly room for more, and more in-depth skills for postgraduates. At the moment we’re going to carry forward the critical appraisal discussion in our College Teams and look at what we can offer via a subject-specific route.

Some issues I thought we might want to consider were:

  • Do people need to understand better the type of information they’re looking at? E.g. website vs e-journal vs pre-print.
  • How about new ways of disseminating information like blogs or YouTube?
  • Are critical appraisal checklists useful? I thought it might be good to encourage people to write notes as they appraise and then use a checklist to ensure they haven’t missed anything.
  • What are the most effective ways of teaching evaluation/appraisal skills?

I’d be interested to hear what people out there think. What training do you think would be useful? Or what training do you provide?

Also love this little tutorial from our Student Development service on Being a Critical Student. We need to go pick their brains and see how we can offer complementary training.

Posted in Research Support, Subject Support, Training | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Reliability of Wikipedia

Posted by knockels on 13 February, 2009

Read recently an interesting piece on the Guardian blogs, by Marcel Berlins. He starts by arguing that Wikipedia is fundamentally flawed, as it allows anyone to edit without having their credentials checked.   As evidence for this he cites some examples of people’s biographies being inaccurate (people being declared dead, for example, when they are not – mind you, the Guardian obits page itself has done this, I think).  But he ends by saying that to change Wikipedia so that this vetting occurs would be unmanageable, and therefore we need to accept that its usefulness comes at a price.

This has set me thinking.  I can see that articles about things where political opinions generate a lot of heat might well be open to abuse or misuse, with frequent edits and more opinions than fact.   I would be loath to see medical students rely on Wikipedia when there are sources with more obvious provenance available. 

But I suspect that articles about things where there are plenty of enthusastic amateurs (morris dancing, for example) may be very useful, up to date, and accurate, and that the discussion page attached to the article will document all the angels dancing on the head of a pin sort of arguments that ensue.

I run a web evaluation exercise with second year genetics students, where they choose two websites from a list I supply.   One has to be one that they think is suitable to use in academic work (and they have a list of criteria to use to help them evaluate), and the other one one that is unsuitable.   Some of the sites are obviously fine, and others obviously not, but I have included a Wikipedia page.   Last year was interesting, and this year will be too, I think!

Posted in Web 2.0 & Emerging Technologies | Tagged: , | 7 Comments »