The Good, The Bad & The Ugly:
or, Why It's a Good Idea to Evaluate Web Sources

Suggestions for Successful Internet Assignments


Most students prefer using the Internet for research and recreation. They will spend countless hours searching and surfing. However, they may not completely understand the Internet's strengths and weaknesses as both a research tool and as a general source of information. Here are some suggestions to help you design effective and successful Internet learning experiences.
  • Provide Guidance
    If you know the URL, provide it. This way students should have no trouble getting to the web site.

  • Plan Ahead
    Check to make sure that the site is still working a few days before giving the assignment. Web pages have a strange way of vanishing without any warning. Alternately, provide several different sites to visit just in case one or two disappear.

  • Request a Hard (Backup) Copy
    Have students make a print copy of the web site (Netscape automatically prints the date and time of access) or else ask them to note the date and time they used the site. This should help clear up any problems if the information changes all of a sudden, leaving some students with out-of-date material.

  • Avoid Busywork
    Ask students to do more than just fetch something off the Internet. Require them to visit one or more sites or search by topic. You might have them compare or evaluate several similar sites. Give them a list of criteria to follow for their comparison or evaluation.
    If assigning a research project that either wholly or partially includes internet sources, ask student to include their search strategy as a component of the research project. Request that they analyse methods they used to refine their search and what made the search more and less successful.

  • Draw on Their Knowledge
    When assigning students to create a bibliography of web sites (webliography) Ask students to come up with their own method of evaluating and assessing web sources. They could list the criteria they feel is most important in site selection and inclusion.
  • Don't Assume Student Expertise
    Often students cannot always differentiate between advertising and information on a web page, especially undergraduates and those unfamiliar with the web. Often students accept any information found on the web at face value. As above, provide them with the tools to evaluate the web sites they do find.
  • Use Established, Trustworthy Web Guides/Directories
    You might want to use the library's Internet Resources as either a starting point for students or else as a link from your class web page. Other invaluable web directories include:
    Infomine at
    Librarians Index to the Internet at
    Internet Scout Project at
  • Inform the Librarians
    Let us know about your assignment so that we can be prepared. This is equally important for both on-campus and distance learning students as we receive many interpretive and procedural questions in person, over the phone and via our e-mail Reference Service, Each academic department has a librarian contact for assistance with designing library related research assignments as well as providing instruction in electronic research tools, research strategies, and library use. Your departmental library contact also plays a major role in collection development for your subject area. See the list of Library Selectors/Liaisons at

  • Let's Work Together
    Request an instruction session for your class. Call Wendy Simpson at 646-4129 for more information or e-mail her at


Last updated:April 27, 2009
Susan E. Beck
Collection Development Coordinator
New Mexico State University Library

© 1997 Susan E. Beck
Educational use: You are welcome to use and make print copies of these materials for educational purposes only. You may also link electronically to this web site but may not make an electronic copy and mount the site locally. The author assumes no responsibility for this collection of web pages if they do not originate from the New Mexico State University Library's web site (

All other uses: For permission to reuse copyrighted content from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, or, Why It's a Good Idea to Evaluate Web Sources, please contact the author.

Cite this source as:

Beck, Susan. The Good, The Bad & The Ugly: or, Why Itís a Good Idea to Evaluate Web Sources.  1997.
Send comments or suggestions to: Susan E. Beck at