Taking the DRAMA out of Source Evaluation

DRAMA stands for Date, Relevance, Accuracy, Motivation and finally, Authority.

We know the difficulty of even beginning to broach a topic as broad as source evaluation in a one shot session. I will outline my approach, which is to be a talking head only briefly to outline the basics of DRAMA , a concept that is all too familiar when use of academic sources is still new, and then pair it with demonstrating learning technologies that allow the students to assess using DRAMA, finally paired with another learning technology creating friendly competition that encourages honest and real discussion among students.


DRAMA

I’ve found in my classes that while CRAAP gets a laugh, it doesn’t connect as strongly to the concept of evaluation a DRAMA does.Currency just isn’t as straight to the point as date, and the concept of rationale and purpose is lost when speaking to a group of bodies who have little experience in thinking of themselves as content creators. Motivation for content creation is one they connect to, even if it’s at the basic level of “ I want to pass this class to get a degree”. 

So what is DRAMA? Date, Relevance, Accuracy, Motivation, & Authority.

The importance of Date is based on the types of topics, suggesting that historical dentistry vs modern is a VERY different thing and you wouldn’t want your dentist mixing the two up.

Relevance, I take a moment to tell them that they got this one! They do this already, by looking at the title and then at the contents of the THING to see if it matches the topic they are personally researching

Accuracy, a simple look to spelling and grammar is as it should be, and then checking links to see if the page has been updated recently.

Motivation. This and authority are sticking points for me, Why did someone spend time to make the resource you are looking at. At the barest of bones time always equates to money, a webpage costs money to create and maintain, and even the free ones involve someone's time to create. So why did they do the THING? Fame? Fortune? Just the want to freely give information? For the good of the people the government publishes resources on important things like sudden infant death syndrome,  but a company like Graco who is giving information about SIDS more than likely is trying to sell more cribs with the information they are giving rather than giving out of the goodness of their heart.

Think back to the latest election, if you looked at the websites of anyone running their entire purpose to have published that website is to convince you that they were the right one for the job. Motivation of sources is a huge kicker, because not everyone could be right thinking they were the best for the job.

Last, but not least is Authority, Anyone can make a webpage. And I mean anyone, you need the skills to be able to read and write and have an internet connection, that’s it. That means that my 3rd grade niece can have a website talking about the skills needed to reach Mars. The thing is, she isn’t authorized to talk about Martians. She has no advance degree, no career experience that would give her more knowledge than most on this topic. But if you find an article written by Joy Bottenfield who is the Mission Operations for the Mars Rover, She would have the authority needed to start giving a better picture than the average public citizen about the process. Having a Masters in Science in Information I have the authority to speak about my specific corner of librarianship. Doing a quick search on an author or even the publisher gives a much greater idea if someone should be talking about a topic as if they know all about it, and that allows you to judge credibility

Find more about how I created the acronym DRAMA in this post here "Tired of CRAAP evaluation" 

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