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RHE 398T Help Materials

These pages support instructors of RHE 306 and RHE 309 to teach information and digital literacy skills.

Finding Viewpoints

Finding Viewpoints

What to know about distinguishing viewpoints from informational sources

Expect your students to struggle with this skill and to spend more time discussing it in class than you planned. Here is what I have seen in my work that may give you some context:

  1. Students mistake quotations from interviews done by a reporter as an expression of a viewpoint by the reporter. When a journalist reports on a side of a controversy, students often mistake that as a viewpoint.
  2. Students do not understand what a journalist's or reporter's job is - to report facts, conduct interviews and to remain impartial. They do not know what a columnist is. 
  3. Students do not understand that newspapers and other sources often have entire sections, pages devoted to columns, editorials and opinions. That magazines and Websites often have a viewpoint or perspective is not a fully grasped concept (see Evaluating Viewpoints section for more)

Resources and activities:

Try this quiz or group activities from the New York Times. These are best adapted to an in class activity.

How to teach them how to find viewpoints on the Web

Limit by Domain

Often organizations (.org) have an agenda tied to a controversy.

You can limit a search on the Advanced Search page in Google (available after you do your search, at the bottom of the page) or in the search box using site:

Search using Advanced Search:

[limit by domain in google advanced search]

Search using "site:"

[in google's search bar to limit to domain]

Search News Sources on the Web

News organizations’ Opinion/Editorial pages are great places to find viewpoints on a controversy. Try going directly to a known news source to find an editorial related to your controversy. Syndicated columnists often maintain their own blogs and websites as well.

Here are examples - by no means the only ones!

How to teach them to find viewpoints in library databases

Searching databases is an essential skill for college and for the workplace. According to Project Information Literacy, recent graduates are unprepared for research in the workplace.  

Being an ok googler does not translate to being an expert database searcher.

Wait! Have you explained to students what a database is? Explaining the Deep Web to students is helpful - there is information that is not indexed or searchable via standard search engines, in this case because we (including students!) pay money for these resources.

Google Scholar may seem like an exception - but it's complicated - it searches many of our subscriptions, but will only give you access if you are 'signed in' to our resources (by using a library link to Google Scholar). 

The RHE Students guide is designed for your students and has tips for searching.

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