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Strategy #2: Critical reading strategies for websites

Knowing that students don't always read with diligence, it is imperative that we provide strategies to encourage critical reading of websites.

Here are some lessons you can assign to help students analyze the content of various types of websites:

Understanding Purpose and Bias of a Website:

Ask your students to go to the McDonald's restaurant website at McDonal's link and answer the following questions:

  • What is the purpose of the website?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Does it appear that any information is purposely omitted?
  • Is the site trying to persuade you or change your mind?
  • Is there bias in the presentation of information? What effect does this have?
  • Can you easily distinguish fact from opinion?
  • How does the website conduct its advertising?
  • How does the fact that this company stands to gain financially affect the purpose of the website?

Understanding the Content of a Website:

Ask your students to go to the American Heart Association's website atAmerican Heart Association's linkand answer the following questions:

  • What is the purpose of the website?
  • What information is included on the home page? Why? Is it enough? Too much? Not enough?
  • Does the entire website cover the topic comprehensively? Accurately?
  • Is there any content missing from this website that you think should have been included to increase your understanding?
  • Are the links well-chosen and appropriate? Are there enough? Too many? Should others have been included?
  • What, if anything, is unique about this website which might influence your reaction to its content?
  • Can you understand what is being said? Is it written above or below your reading level? How does this affect your reaction to its content?
  • Is the information current? For example, when was the information first put on the Internet or last revised? How does this affect your reaction to the content?
  • Do you think you could get better information from a book, journal, magazine, or other printed source?
  • Are charts or graphs (if any) easy to read?
  • How does presenting this information in a website shape your reaction to its content?