Mapping Audience & Purpose: Evaluating Sources

Submitted by Carolyn Caffrey on June 13th, 2019
Share this on: 
Short Description: 

This lesson is designed for lower-division composition undergraduate students to learn frameworks for evaluating the audience and purpose of various information sources. After analyzing an array of sources for audience and purpose students can dig in to a source in more detail looking for markers of authority and discussing strategies for verifying claims.

Audience and purpose concept mapDownloaded 1140 times82.87 KB
Evaluating a Source WorksheetDownloaded 911 times8.94 KB
Slides for StudentsDownloaded 1859 times432.21 KB
Lesson plan outline and pictures of research stationsDownloaded 932 times564.85 KB
Learning Outcomes: 

Students will be able to:
1) Articulate different markers of authority in a variety of information contexts
2) Identify the purpose and audience of different information formats

Individual or Group:

Course Context (e.g. how it was implemented or integrated): 

This lesson plan was designed for 60 minutes and delivered to 42 classes in 6 days as part of a summer early start composition program. We needed something that was fun, interactive, could be delivered by many different instructors back to back, and supported the overall course goals of reading rhetorically.

Prior to teaching the lesson we assembled six self contained "research stations." These were boxes (but could also be dedicated spaces) filled with information sources with various audiences/purposes, worksheets to be completed in small groups, stickers to make the worksheets faster, and writing utensils.

The librarian begins the lesson with a warm-up question on everyday research, this is followed by a group map and discussion on the audience and purpose of information sources, finally the session concludes with an in-depth dive evaluating one popular source.

Additional Instructor Resources (e.g. in-class activities, worksheets, scaffolding applications, supplemental modules, further readings, etc.): 

Pictures of our research stations are included in the PDF lesson plan. We used the following sources in our boxes:
• #1 Multimodal news piece:
• #2 an opposing viewpoints opinion piece from a Marijuana policy institute [proxied link removed – sub in your own opinion piece here]
• #3 a news article:
• #4 a video:
• # 5 a government report from a website:
• # 6 a scholarly journal article [proxied link removed – sub in your own short article here]
• #7 an encyclopedia article from Gale Virtual Reference
• #8 an edited scholarly monograph on a variety of topics pulled from our stacks

Assessment or Criteria for Success
Assessment Short Description: 
We used a short evaluation form designed for this session. The questions included: 1) Which part of today's session did you learn the most from? {checkbox of all the activities and components] 2) What was one aha! moment that you had today about understanding and evaluating sources? 3) If you could change or improve one thing about this session to better help you learn, what would it be? We also consulted with faculty teaching the course regarding their student work.
Suggested Citation: 
Caffrey, Carolyn . "Mapping Audience & Purpose: Evaluating Sources." CORA (Community of Online Research Assignments), 2019.