Searching the Web

by Pat Sine and Jeff Fahnoe

Introduction | Task | Resources | Process | Evaluation | Conclusion | Worksheet


There is always something extra you need to know.  Sometimes, you'll want the answer to a specific question.  At others, you'll need to find information that is much more recent than anything you could get in print.  At still other times, you'll need to follow a news story as it is evolving.

The Internet provides lots of tools and lots of information to help with all of this.  It also tempts us with dead-ends, misinformation and outright hoaxes.

The Task

You'll be using the Internet to find the answers to an assortment of questions.  Any search tools or site is valid, BUT you'll need to be able to defend your methodology and the accuracy of each of your answers.

  1. Search tools There are many different kinds of search tools available. The ones listed below give a cross-section of types. To find out more about when to use each, What kind of search services should you use? from Pandia Goalgetter Internet Searching Tutorial will get you started.
    Yahoo or Yahooligans An index of web sites organized by human "librarians". Yahoo is for adults (grown-up topics, not X-rated) and Yahooligans is for kids. The categories are arranged to appeal to each of those audiences.
    Google A search engine that uses a "popularity" factor to rank order hits
    AltaVista One of the largest and fastest search engines
    Ask Jeeves or
    AskJeeves for Kids
    A natural language search engine, along with a directory. AskJeeves for Kids returns hits only from its screened database of "G-rated" sites and from other search sites for kids.. Features over 600 guides offering original content in various areas with extensive links to other sites. 
    Internet Public Library A directory organized by the librarians at University of Michigan
    KidsClick! This site for kids offers a directory of sites for K-12 student work. It is designed by librarians and key words are likely to be more useful for student work.

  2. Evaluating web pages and information. These pages will provide background information on how to decide if information is accurate and reliable. The page can also be used to help guide students.

  3. Format for Citing Authorities.

    Author's Last Name, Initial(s). (Date of document [if different from date 
            accessed)]. Title of document. Title of complete work [if applicable]. 
            Version or File number [if applicable]. (Edition or revision 
            [if applicable]).Protocol and address, access path, or directories
            (date of access).
    Sine, P.H. (1998). What's technology got to do with it?
  (22 July 1999). 

The Process
  1. In order to complete this task, you'll need to understand how to evaluate the information that you find on the Web.  The table below show  five criteria that research authorities use to separate good information from bad. Much of this is no different from what you'd do with print resources, but it's not second nature to us yet on the Internet.  Remember not to believe something just because it looks good on the Web.

    Accuracy Is the information accurate? Are facts well-checked? 
    Authority  Is the author of the web page clearly stated and does he or  she have a credible background to write on the topic?
    Objectivity Does the author represent a particular point of view? 
    Currency When was the web page last updated?
    Coverage Does the site cover all aspects of the given topic? 

  3. Now on to the questions.  For each of the questions, use the tools provided or others that you know about to find the best answer. Look closely at the evaluation rubric to make sure you are covering all the bases.

    For each question, record this information.

    • Answer
    • Search tool used and why and your strategy
    • How did you decide that this information was accurate?
    • A citation for your source


Use this rubric to evaluate your use of the Internet to find the answers to questions.  Give yourself a score for each question for each item on the rubric and then average those to get a final score.

1 pts.
2 pts.
3 pts.
the Question


Found the correct answer for only a few of the questions.
Found the correct answer for the questions.
Found the correct answer for the questions and verified the answer by finding a second source.
Explaining the 
Search Tool Used
Tools seemed to be chosen randomly without a clear understanding of the relative purposes.
Explanation of each tool choice showed a limited understanding about why the tool was appropriate for the task.
Explanation of each tool choice clearly showed why the tool was appropriate for the task.
Evaluating the 
Usefulness of Information
Responses were vague about why a particular source was likely to be accurate on a given question.
Responses ignored one or more key factors in deciding on the accuracy of information.
Responses clearly indicated why the given source was most likely to provide accurate information.
Using the Correct 
Form for a  Citation
Citations were generally missing.
Citations were incomplete or inaccurate.
Citations were complete and accurate.  The sources of information could readly be found by someone else.


As you've seen the Web has plenty of useful information but also lots of ways to get misled.  Hopefully, this exercise has helped you learn about some new tools for searching the web and has given you some ways to judge what information is truly useful.  Keep this set of tools handy as you use the Web for all future information gathering.

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