Document Type

Conference Material

Publication Date


Department 1


Department 2

Health Sciences


“Fake news” and “alternative facts” are now ubiquitous terms. Teaching information and scientific literacy is essential if we expect students to become well-informed citizens prepared to navigate today’s digital landscape, political climate, and 24-hour cable news cycle. A professor and a research librarian designed assignments over the course of the semester to address the following information literacy outcomes in an undergraduate epidemiology class. Students should be able to: 1) Examine and compare information from various sources in order to evaluate accuracy, authority, currency, and point of view; 2) Recognize the cultural, physical, or other context within which information is created and how that context impacts interpretation; 3) Evaluate information and explore multiple perspectives while maintaining an open mind and critical stance; 4) Recognize that information may be perceived differently based on the format in which it is presented and 5) Investigate differing viewpoints encountered in the literature and determine whether or not to incorporate or reject these ideas. Student decision-making was evaluated at baseline using Screencast-O-Matic, a free online tool to record student searches. Students were prompted with a scenario in which they were asked to find reputable information on climate change and health to settle a family argument. Additional case studies with strong scientific consensus (e.g. vaccinations and autism), yet politically controversial, were used. Baseline and end-of-semester rubric scores will be compared. Individual assignment rubrics used to determine if students achieved all learning outcomes will be shared. At minimum this approach engaged undergraduates in scientific discussions around climate change and vaccination safety.


Presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Public Health Association, Atlanta, GA, November 7, 2017.

Additional attached files include instructional and rubric materials.