This construction and content of this assignment are the property of
Virginia Montecino. Feel free to link to this assignment and use it in
your classes as an intact document, with attribution.
Group Project - Researching and Critiquing Internet Resources
The goals of this assignment are to help you:
* If your group does not choose to publish the critique on the Web, each
group member must turn in a written copy of the report (even though there
is one report for the group), including information about each member's
contribution to the project. You must also include the Web address of the
site each member critiqued.
become knowledgeable about doing research on the Internet
differentiate between credible Internet information and "junk"
develop your critical thinking skills and back up your conclusions with
build teamwork skills to produce a product - a web page document.
create clear concise text (using the necessary editing and layout skills).
create a user-friendly * Web page based on your critique, with clear text,
logical format, appropriate links.
You will be graded on:
participation (doing your part of the analysis, responding to drafts of
Web project, attending virtual and/or real time meetings on the project).
It is possible for a final product to get one grade and a participant to
get another, if there is sufficient evidence to show that someone did not
do his or her fair share or turned in less than minimally acceptable work.
evaluation form you will fill out at the end of the semester. Ideally,
team dynamics should help each person do his or her best by drawing on
the individual strengths of the members.
quality of analysis with supporting evidence
It is important to know the difference between reliable and unreliable
information transmitted by all means of information sharing. Because anyone,
in theory, can publish on the Web, it is imperative for users of the Web
to develop a critical eye to evaluate the credibility of Internet information.
To help you become familiar with Internet information in your major, you
will (in your designated groups) explore some Internet sites that relate
o your major and write a collaborative report to be posted as a Web Page.
quality of written Web document - ease of comprehension and navigation;
clear, concise language; correct spelling and grammar; appropriate hyperlinks
to Web material you critique. (I am not expecting fancy JAVA scripted or
graphics-laden web pages. It should be readable and thorough in content,
and not obscured by too many bells and whistles. I prefer you not use frames.)
[If your group does not publish the critique on the Web, your document
must, of course, follow the guidelines for a well written document.]
Your group can select one extensive Internet site, with each of you
analyzing particular hypertext links, or each of you could pick a different
site, as long as it is in your major. Make general observations in your
report about your findings on the one, extensive site, or the various sites,
and then narrow down to analyzing your particular sites. If the site you
choose has a significant amount of information, you can pick representative
samplings of information to deal with in detail and give a general overview
of what is covered. You will analyze the information and graphics on the
Web sites, write a collaborative report on your findings and publish it
on the Web. At the end of your Web page, list everyone in the group and
their e-mail addresses, what sites (including the full title of the site
and the URL address) he or she researched. Link to the individual web pages
of the group members. In your FINAL PORTFOLIO you will include an individual
report outlining in detail your input to the project, a brief summary of
the site you analyzed, the address of the site you analyzed, and the group
members names and their site addresses. If your Group Internet Project
is published on the Web there is no need to turn in a print copy of the
project. (Be sure you give me the Web address of your report when you
publish it and also include it in your individual report in your Portfolio.)
At the end of the semester you will evaluate each other's contributions
to the project .
One member of the group could have the Web project residing on his or
her Web space, with links to the other group members' pages. Or each of
you could have a copy residing in your Web page (the safest policy). This
will help facilitate viewing the projects for the oral presentations and
viewing of the Web projects.
Attention: Provide links to the original Internet material
you are analyzing. If you want to use their logo or copy any material onto
your page (other than a link) you must first get permission from
the originator of that material. If you want to quote a portion of the
original site's text, you must be sure your give credit to the original
source. See copyright
section of my Web page.
Questions and points to address when writing your report
When you analyze the sites and form opinions, backup your opinions with
supporting evidence to support your points. Your report should not
be in Q & A format. You have flexibility in format and style,
as long as your report is clear, concise, and well organized.
|Give the URL (http:// address) of the site, and a brief overview of
| Deconstruct the site's web address: The Web site address is called
a "URL". A URL (Uniform Resource Locator)
is an Internet address that generally begins with the "http://" symbol.
URL addresses can be recognized by the "Domain Name." Domain Names
are divided into categories such as:.
|.edu - for education sites
|.gov - for government sites
|.org - for organization sites
|.com - for commercial sites
|.net - for network infrastructures
Some URLs end in the ".htm" or ".html" suffix, which is part of the Unix
code which allows the computer to read the information in hypertext form.
What do the different parts of a URL, divided by "/" symbols mean? URL
addresses are hierarchical. For example, the address: "http://www.gmu.edu/facstaff/policy/administrative/60.html"
broken down into its components is (from the lowest to highest): the file
"University Policy #60" - Responsible Use of Computing ("60.html"),
is linked in a web page called "University Administration Policies" ("administrative").
The "University Administration Policies" page is linked on a web page called
the "Faculty/Staff Information" ("facstaff"), which a link on MasonLink
the GMU home page, which address is "www.gmu.edu."
Is the web site a government site? Is it an organization site? Is it an
education site? How do you tell if a Web site is a personal Web site? What
special interests and biases might be inherent in the various types of
What are the major categories of information covered on the site/sites?
Who are the audiences for these sites? What clues define the audiences?
Provide evidence such as tone, voice, language (accessible to the general
public or technical?) , assumed knowledge.
What are the hypertext links on that "page"? How do the various links relate
to the main theme? Are the links consistent with the main theme, or does
the site have personal links? Is it a hodgepodge of various personal interests
of an individual?
What kinds of graphics are on the sites? Describe them in detail. How do
they relate to the topics? Are the graphics designed to grab your attention?
Do they make the site easier to use, or help explain concepts? Do the graphics
support text information or do they stand alone? Do they overuse graphics
to the point of distraction? Who are the various audiences for these graphics?
What are your clues?
What clues do you have about the credibility of the sites and information?
You may not be familiar with the institutions, organizations, or individuals
who sponsor or who contributed information to the sites (and this is also
true with traditional text sources), but can you also find text material
by these authors or institutions in the library? From what institutions
or organizations do the sites originate? Any group can give itself an official
sounding name or logo. What beyond surface credibility gives you clues
about the reliability of the site and its information? Is the sponsoring
organization involved in research and/or does it provide supporting documentation
to back up its points? Does the site have built in bias? For example is
the Web page an advertisement for a product or service? Does it have a
particular political or social agenda? Having an agenda or selling a product
on the Web is not necessarily "bad," but is the sponsor "sneaky" about
its alliances or "up front"?
Some types of Web sites:
Make some general observations about what you learned about the subject
you chose to investigate from exploring these sites. What did you learn
about your discipline through exploring the Internet sources? What general
observations can you make about the usefulness and value of the information
you found on the Internet (while aware of the fact that you have not covered
all possible sites - only a sampling) in your chosen field of study? What
did you learn about looking at information, web-based and others, with
a critical eye? At the end of your group report, list the URL address of
each site and the name of group member who researched it.
Personal Home Pages - Web sites which are maintained by individuals.
They are often informal. Individuals can post their resumes, link
to favorite sites, and showcase their interests and ideas. Some personal
Web sites also serve as professional sites. For example, many professors
publish their syllabi and other course material on their own Web pages.
Special interest sites - maintained by non-profit organizations
or activists dealing with special issues, such as environmental concerns,
legalization of marijuana, etc. They can be relatively mainstream
or radical in interests and vary widely in credibility of information.
Information sites - which include research, reference sources, and
fact sheets. Many institutions provide such services to the public. The
credibility of the institution providing the facts gives clues as to the
reliability of the information. Is the material documented?
News and journalistic sites - which include national, international
news, online newspapers, magazines. Anyone can publish his or her own "news,"
on the Web. As in print - just because it is published does not necessarily
mean it is true. If a periodical article has an ISSN (International Standard
Serial Number) it will probably have more authority. Web serials that do
not have ISSN numbers are probably created by entrepreneurs and less authority
than other publications.
No category of Web site is "better" than another. They serve different
purposes. There are reliable and unreliable Web sites in all categories
of Web sites. A personal Web site, which expresses the interests and biases
of its author, is a legitimate use of a Web site, as long as the Web site
owner is upfront about his or her identity. Many such sites have
useful information. Be wary of sites which publish information and express
views without letting you know who the original source is. Web sites can
masquerade as one type but may really have a hidden agenda. Any group can
give itself an official sounding name or logo. Keep yourself attuned to
clues to help you recognize the true nature and intent of sites, and the
reliability of the information.
Commercial sites - Although many legitimate businesses have Web
sites; some are not legitimate. Companies are in the business of making
money and acquiring and keeping customers. They are naturally biased
in favor of their own products, so watch out for inflated claims for performance
and quality. Companies will not showcase their competitors' products.
If you are, for example, comparing products, get impartial reviews, not
company information. Many entrepreneurs use "rented" Web space to create
their own Web sites to sell their services or products - buyer beware!
Can you track the reputation of the company?
It gets confusing when dealing with personal Web pages. Independent
providers, such as AOL, are not responsible for the content of individual's
Web pages, anymore than a university is responsible for the Web pages of
students (Though, in extreme cases, you can be cut off if your content
does not fit certain standards). If a person named "Doe" had a Web page
on America Online, the address might be http://www.aol.com/doe/.
Even though the site is commercial (AOL), Mr./Ms. Doe bought Web space
for a personal Web page. Some universities provide Web space to faculty
and students. So personal Web pages can reside on a server with an
See more Guidelines
for Critiquing Web Sites:http://mason.gmu.edu/~montecin/web-eval-sites.htm
© Copyright 1996 Virginia Montecino
Virginia Montecino's Web