Catch RADCAB Sites: Which Sites Will You Ride?
Students will examine and evaluate a ubiquitous web site (a Kidipede site, a Fact Monster site, or a Wikipedia site) according to the mnemonic RADCAB acronym: for Relevancy, Appropriateness, Detail, Currency, Authority, and Bias. They will work in pairs using a handout to think aloud a systematic evaluation of a web site in order that such critical thinking about web sites used for research becomes routine.
- Computers w/ Internet access
- RADCAB Information Evaluation Charts (SM1) with pre-selected websites
- Copies of self evaluation rubric
The RADCAB concept and mnemonic is used in this lesson with the original author’s permission. See information below:
Christensson, Karen M. RADCAB. http://www.radcab.com/ September 8, 2009.
TL introduces the lesson and the RADCAB mnemonic:
- Will you be using web sites in your research? If so, you have to know how to recognize a RADCAB site. Anyone can publish a site. Many sites are not a good fit for your research project so spending time on them is a waste. Some sites can contain misinformation. Do you know any examples? (Project the hoax site “All about Explorers” and read the first line of Christopher Columbus description as an example.)
- RADCAB is an evaluation method you can use whenever you find a new site—either for information or entertainment. For a site to make the first cut, “it’s gotta be a RAD”: a site that is Relevant to your task, Appropriate for you, and with the right amount of Detail. In a nutshell, is it a useful site for you? Let’s look at a site.
Modeling and Guided Practice:
- TL projects a site that gives a little information about a topic either from Kidipede, Wikipedia, or a similar site, and models critical thinking using the questions on the handout for Relevancy, Appropriateness, and Detail (SM1).
- Once you decide it’s RAD, you have to check the CAB and make sure you aren’t headed down the wrong highway. This is part two of the method. Here are the questions: Is the information Current? Is the author of the site an Authority in the field? Is there Bias on the site? Let’s look at another site together.
- TL projects a site that contains obvious bias, such as a site for a political candidate. TL scrolls down to bottom of homepage and checks last updated information. TL scrolls down to bottom of homepage or up to the title bar to show the author. If not known, google the person or organization. TL discusses bias in terms of purpose for the web site. TL models how to check site for bias. There is bias on a site when the authors’ purpose is to persuade you to believe what they believe.
- Give pairs of students the chart with the title and URL of a site to evaluate selected by TL based on their research needs and grade level: Is it RAD? Is it CAB? Finally, is it a RADCAB site, one that you can take down the information highway OR do you need to find another Web site? Ask them to ask each other the questions given on handout and use checkboxes to indicate their thoughts and responses.
Sharing and Reflecting:
- Pairs share their thinking about different sites with the class. Will your teacher accept this site as a source? Will you? What did you realize about web sites? About doing online research? (Fact checking the author of a personal site, internal links vs. external links, etc.)
- TL follows up (or starts lesson) by using the self-assessment rubric found on http://www.radcab.com. TL concludes: I hope that every time you consider web sites for your research needs, you ask yourself “RADCAB?” before you accept their validity as a source of information.