Source Evaluation via SIFT Technique

Submitted by Gina Trask on March 24th, 2022
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Short Description: 

This lesson actively engages learners in the process of evaluating an information source using the SIFT technique, designed by Mike Caufield. The approach uses lateral reading techniques and the lesson encourages learners to apply and reflect on the technique as it pertains to a specific information need.

Learning Outcomes: 

Learners will be able to evaluate a website or online source to determine if it is appropriate to use for a specific information need.

Information Literacy concepts: 
Individual or Group: 
Course Context (e.g. how it was implemented or integrated): 

This lesson has been taught for multiple audiences: first-year and senior college students for a specific course assignment, as a drop-in virtual workshop with college students of all levels, and as a continuing education workshop with public school educators. The lesson has also be adapted as an asynchronous module in a learning management system.

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

Caulfield, M. (2019, June 19). SIFT (The Four Moves). Hapgood.

Caulfield, M. (2017). Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers.

Lesson materials adapted from: Citizen Literacy by Robert Detmering, Amber Willenborg, and Terri Holtze for University of Louisville Libraries is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0.


Assessment or Criteria for Success
Assessment Short Description: 
The activity for this lesson serves as the assessment. The rubric can be used to assess the competency of the learners in regards to the SIFT technique. It may be appropriate for some learners to be at the "beginner" or "developing" stage and for others to aim for "exemplary" stage.
Suggested Citation: 
Trask, Gina. "Source Evaluation via SIFT Technique." CORA (Community of Online Research Assignments), 2022.


This lesson has been in development for over a year, used with students across disciplines, and taught in synchronous (remote and F2F) and asynchronous courses. My interest in the SIFT technique grew out of a need to teach college students additional ways of evaluating sources that go beyond checklists.