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Activity prepared by Loretta F. Kasper, Ph.D. © 2003


It is very important to know how to conduct an effective Internet search. Becoming familiar with effective search strategies will save you time and will enable you to find useful sites much more quickly. The following exercise will teach you how to search for information effectively.

  1. Begin by reading What To Do Before Searching
  2. Next read The Spider's Apprentice: How Search Engines Work
  3. Then read Seven Steps to Better Searching
  4. Finally read Four Nets for Better Searching
  5. Now practice using EACH of the search engines contained on the Search Engines page. Type in the following keyword(s):
    1. Studs Terkel
    2. Studs Terkel, American Dreams
    3. American Dreams, American Voices
    Be sure that you type the same keywords into each search engine
  6. Write down the total number of hits you get from each search engine.
  7. When you find a useful, or potentially useful web site, DON'T FORGET TO WRITE DOWN THE COMPLETE URL AND THE FULL TITLE, AUTHOR, ETC.

After you conduct your Internet search, you must decide which of the hits are useful and which are not. To do this, you must know how to evaluate the information you find online. It is important to be critical of all information resources, especially those you find on the Internet. Knowing how to tell the difference between a web site that presents reliable factual information versus one that presents mainly someone's opinion can save you time and energy in the research process.

Today you will practice evaluating web sites.

You will access and evaluate 3 different web sites on the same subject.

  • Begin by read the Evaluation Criteria chart online at Be sure that you understand each of the 5 criteria listed.
  • Next read Critical Thinking on the World Wide Web
    • Complete the CLOZE exercise on "Defining and Understanding the Internet" on page 2

  • NEXT practice evaluating the some web sites on Studs Terkel's American Dreams:

    • Go to

    • Find THREE websites on Studs Terkel's American Dreams. Type the keywords "Studs Terkel, American Dreams" (without the quotation marks) into the Search box.

    • Evaluate each of the three web sites according to the EACH OF THE 5 criteria listed in the chart. Write out your evaluations separately for each site listing all five criteria and your comments. Be sure to indicate the URL of the web site. Next write out another evaluation in which you compare the usefulness of the three sites. Be sure to indicate which of the three sites you feel is most useful and reliable and why. Also indicate which of the three sites you feel is least useful and reliable and why.
Continue developing your skills in searching for and evaluating online resources by studying this comprehensive page of Search Resources.

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Web page created by Dr. Loretta Kasper
Professor of English

Site last updated on
February 18, 2004