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Even before the term “fake news” gained widespread use during the 2016 election campaign, Kirkwood faculty widely agreed (72% of those surveyed in 2015) that students need to do better at evaluating information sources used in their research.

We at the Library often get requests from faculty to help teach students how to effectively evaluate information sources, so we are always on the lookout for the best ways to teach these important skills. We have used tools like the CRAAP Test, which does a good job of guiding us to dig more deeply into a source, past its initial appearance. However educator and researcher Mike Caulfield has found that this deep dive to interrogate a source — an approach that serves us well in the world of academics — does us a disservice when we try to apply it to the overload of information in our daily lives and on our social media feeds. What this world of attention-grabbing, misleading headlines, and outright lies needs is a simple and quick approach that is easily understood and learned by students (and teachers and librarians!) of all ages. 

Enter “Four Moves and a Habit”, a process adapted from the work of professional fact-checkers to quickly gauge whether a particular news story, website, or piece of information is worth the time needed for the “deep dive”. Caulfield published an extensive (and free) online book, Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers, describing this approach in great detail back in 2017. Since then he has been developing teaching materials and testing the method out on college as well as younger students to fine tune it. As of now these are the tools I recommend for teachers to learn for themselves and use with their students:

  1. The (short!) YouTube video series “Online Verification Skills”
  2. And as a reminder once you’ve learned the steps, this handy infographic of the 4 moves