Document Enabling Critical Evaluation of Sources for Speeches

Submitted by Benjamin Walton on


Need: Students are required to use at least 5 credible sources, but have struggled to identify and use them.

Enhancement (see esp. #2): 

(1) Instruction: Credible sources meet all 3 criteria: (a) written by a named [with rare exceptions] authority on the subject under discussion; (b) timely [which usually, but not always, means recent]; (c) has minimal bias [completely objective sources don't exist].

(2) Template: Students type into/complete the attached Word document, "Research Packet." (10 points of speech)

(3) Students start during class time, so that I can help them as they struggle to find credible sources. [I point them to the library's databases]

(4) A few days later, I meet with each student one-on-one for 5, maybe 10, minutes to provide feedback on the Research Packet. Also discussed: the wording of their speeches' big idea/thesis, main points, & logic.

Results: Increase in number of credible sources used by 400%. Students are apprehensive at first, but satisfied when finished.

Completed Full Cycle
Course Number
COM 100
COM 225
Attachment Size
document-research-packet.docx 19.6 KB
Average: 4.4 (5 votes)


Olga Tsoudis Mon, 02/20/2017 - 11:30am

Benjamin, Thank you for sharing this tool. Due to students' struggles with research, this step by step process helps them become more successful in finding those credible sources. I find that steps like this help with student success. When we sometimes give them research papers and have an end due date, the success rate is very low (procrastination, confusion, not understanding, not giving themselves time to ask questions). Your process helps with these issues. Smiles, Olga

Benjamin Walton Mon, 02/20/2017 - 11:41am

In reply to by Olga Tsoudis

Olga, I appreciate the kind and helpful feedback. Naturally, there is more that goes into discerning credible sources than these 3 criteria, but I've found that when students find sources that meet these criteria, their sources are virtually always credible (although not necessarily accurate, an important distinction).  Thanks again, Olga. --Ben

Becky Baranowski Mon, 02/20/2017 - 6:41pm

Meeting with your students one on one for 5-10 minutes is very time consumig, but it also shows you are dedicated to your students and their success.  Thank you for taking time to work with them on an individual basis.  

Benjamin Walton Mon, 02/20/2017 - 8:49pm

In reply to by Becky Baranowski

Rebecca, again thanks for the kind words and the feedback. The brief meetings prove helpful.  I started doing them before I used the "Research Packet" document, but this time has become much more productive since using it. I can see the stress in students' eyes as they begin to do it, and I see their sense of accomplishment when we meet to review and enhance their good work.

I feel that starting the task/assignment in class is helpful too, as it clears up some of the mental cobwebs students have about the selection of credible sources.

Jill Santy Tue, 02/21/2017 - 2:48pm

Very thorough form, Ben.  I use templates frequently, also. Templates avoid so many problems and student issues. I am hoping you are participating in Elizabeth Rodriguez's Information Literacy (educational matrix) evaluation this semester. Your research paper with all of the required references would be great input!