Evaluating Websites

Presented by: S.O.S. Team

Grade Level(s):


This lesson will teach students how to determine the credibility of websites based on a set of criteria. Students will have the chance to look at and describe the differences between these resources.

Submitted with permission of Dr. Megan Oakleaf.

Adapted from Bolner, Myrtle S., and Gayle A. Poirier. The Research Process. Dubuque, Iowa: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Co., 2002, p. 60-63.

Burkhardt, Joanna M., Mary C. MacDonald, and Andree J. Rathemacher.

Teaching Information Literacy. Chicago: American Library Association,

2003, p. 73-77.

Carla, List J. Information Research. Dubuque, Iowa: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Co.,

2002, p.123.

Gradowski, Gail, Loanne Snavely, and Paula Dempsey. Designs for Active Learning. Chicago: Association of College and Research Libraries, 1998,

p. 179.

Goals & Objectives:

Information Literacy Objective


The student will identify and use evaluative criteria to determine the credibility of websites.


Student Objective


The student will evaluate websites for content, currency, authority, accuracy, and bias.



Index cards with website URLs and a topic statement



Computer with Internet connection




Introduction (Time = 5 minutes)





Procedure (Time = 25 minutes)

1.      Put students into pairs and handout index cards.  Each index card should have a general topic statement at the top with a URL for students to go to and evaluate. (See below for topic ideas)


o       You should have 2 cards for each topic, each with a different website URL. This will allow students with the same topic to compare/contrast their findings about various websites on the same topic. 


o       Sample Topics:

§         Martin Luther King, Jr.

§         UFOs

§         Greenhouse Effect

§         Cancer Research

§         Drinking and Driving

§         Obesity in America

§         Drug Testing


o       You should come up with 2 URL’s per topic (1 for each group).  It doesn’t matter if one site is “good” and one is “bad,” just that students are able to see how all of the evaluation criteria come into play when evaluating websites.


2.      Pass out handout and instruct students to take some time to read over their topic, and search throughout the site. 


3.      Students should then complete the handout and decide whether or not their site is suitable for academic work.  Students should justify their responses with solid reasoning and evidence from the site itself.


4.      When everyone is done, ask students to present their findings to the class. You may choose to have 2 groups with the same topic to come to the front of the class and show their websites, then discuss their findings. Or, you may also allow students to discuss their evaluative decisions from their seats while you show their websites to the class. 


5.      Ask students if they had any difficulty with any of the evaluation criteria.  If so, what seemed the most difficult to evaluate?  Why? 


Closure (Time = 5 minutes)

·        Tell students, “Although you may not write out all of your reasons for selecting various websites when completing research assignments in the future, it is important that you understand and have this criteria in mind so that you can support your reasons for using particular websites.”

·        Summarize the lesson

·        Ask students if they have any questions about evaluating websites.

·        (Optional) You may want to assign students to use evaluation criteria for at least one of the websites they will use in upcoming assignments.

Wrap Up

Encourage students to contact librarians at the reference desk if they have any question about the credibility of a particular website. 


Lesson Evaluation

What worked well for you?



What will you do differently next time?




Student Assessment

Students may be assessed formally by collecting handouts or informally through class discussion and teacher observation.

Supporting Files: