Critical evaluation of information – Situated window

In this post I present the second in a series of posts explaining the GeSTE windows model for the critical evaluation of information (Lupton 2008Lupton & Bruce 2010).

The GeSTE windows is a way of seeing information literacy as Generic, Situated, Transformative and Expressive. The GeSTE windows form a hierarchy of increasing complexity with the Generic window at the base (i.e. simplistic) and the Transformative and Expressive windows as the top level (i.e. complex). My first post explains the Generic window.

In this post I explain the Situated window. It should be noted that the Situated window incorporates the Generic window. This means that someone employing the Situated window will also understand and employ the Generic window where relevant.

The Situated window deals with contextualised skills and practices. Ways of working with information are seen as authentic socio-cultural practices (see Figure 1). Information is seen as internal and subjective. It includes opinions, beliefs and ideas, paradigms and world views. Information is seen as a range of texts and stimuli, including sensory, embodied and affective information. Information creation is seen as a ‘process’ (ACRL 2015). This process may engage communities, such as crowdsourcing/networking models of data and information generation (Siemens 2004).

GeSTE situated

Figure 1: Situated window

In the Situated window, information is critically evaluated through using distinct lenses. In formal educational and workplace settings there are particular disciplinary and professional ways of knowing and constructing knowledge. These ways include the nature of evidence and argument. In community settings there are cultural considerations such as an oral versus print culture, indigenous epistemologies and respect for the authority of elders. Frameworks used to critically evaluate information thus acknowledge authority as ‘constructed & contextual’ (ACRL 2015).

Below I have reproduced a range of question frameworks and tools used to evaluate information, sources and data through the Situated window:

History: Evaluating newspaper sources

  • “What is this document?
  • What does it show/say?
  • Who created this document?
  • Why did that person create the document?
  • When was the document made?
  • How is the document being used?
  • What event, issue or decision is depicted or represented in the documents?
  • Who was involved in this event, issue, or decision?
  • Why did this event happen?
  • Why was this decision made?
  • Was the issue resolved?
  • What impact did the event, issue, or decision have?”

History: Evaluating artefacts

  • “WHO made it?
  • WHO used it?
  • WHO is in the picture?
  • WHOSE opinion does it show?
  • WHERE is it?
  • WHERE was it?
  • WHERE was it made?
  • WHERE was it used?
  • WHEN was it made?
  • WHEN was it used?
  • WHEN does it show?
  • WHY was it made?
  • WHY has it survived?
  • HOW was it made?
  • HOW was it used?
  • HOW has it survived?”

Geography: Evaluating maps (cached version is here as site was unavailable at time of posting)

“What is this map about?

  • Read the title to determine the place, date (of content/of production) and content or theme.
  • Use the scaleorientation and grid to understand the distance, direction and geographic position represented.
  • Use the legend to understand what the symbols, shapes and colors represent.

Why was this map created?

  • Examine the scale for clues about intended use. (de Blij 2005, 25-6)
  • Examine the context in which the map is presented.
  • Find background on the cartographer or organization associated with it.
  • Identify the intended audience, purpose or expected use.

What is incomplete, omitted or inaccurate?

  • If conventions like scale, orientation and grid are absent, question the accuracy, readability and clarity of the map.
  • Identify what the map projection distorts (de Blij 2005, 30-34) and determine if this affects the purpose.
  • Determine if the simplification of the data is truthful to the original source. (Foote 1999)
  • When a map presents a large area, compare the information with that from other types of sources, since distances and sizes are likely to be distorted by a small scale map.
  • Find the source of the map’s data. Evaluate the authority of the source and the accuracy of the data.
  • Analyze whether the colors display the data accurately. Few people can determine the logical sequence of contrasting hues, but most map readers understand that shades of gray represent a sequential order. (Monmonier 1991, 21-22)
  • Compare the data used in the map with other data sources to judge the accuracy.
  • Brainstorm questions that the map answers. Evaluate the completeness of the answers.
  • Locate information that is relevant to the map’s purpose but missing. Evaluate the impact this information might have had if it had been included.
  • Are the conclusions you draw from the data credible in light of what you know and what you can learn elsewhere.
  • Evaluate the map for point of view or bias by identifying information (e.g., names, pejoratives) that might be presented differently by another group, culture, society or government. (Monmonier 2006)”

Geography: Evaluating maps -misrepresentation of the size of countries

Geography: Evaluating places

  • “Where is the location?
  • What is there?
  • Who is involved?
  • Why is this important?
  • Has it always been like this?
  • How has it changed?
  • Why has it changed?
  • Why is it there?
  • Will it continue to change?
  • Why will it continue to change?
  • How does this affect the surrounding environment?
  • Are there any patterns and what are they?
  • Why are these patterns important?
  • Will any actions be taken and what will they be?”

Geo-politics: Evaluating media, images, video, social media reports, fact-checking

One of the most pressing concerns of the use of social media is the spread of misinformation. However, social media is also a valuable vehicle for the dissemination of information from the grass-roots, unmediated by the agenda and propaganda of governments and news organisations. The crowd sourcing of information can thus be viewed as both good and evil. Here are two tools that have been developed to draw on the crowd for information on humanitarian crises:

  • The Verification Handbook presents a range of ways for emergency services personnel, non-government organisations, governments and journalists to verify information that is disseminated on humanitarian crises such as earthquakes, floods, tsunamis and terrorist attacks. These verification techniques must be situated within the geo-political context of the crisis in order to analyse the veracity of the information.
  • Verily  is a crowdsourcing service established to help humanitarian organisations obtain the information they need. Verily offers a range of strategies and questions for verifying various media to enable citizens to become ‘digital detectives’.  The Verily Twitter account asks for help in gaining information:

Screen Shot 2016-07-20 at 2.12.17 PM

Science: Evaluating scientific studies

  • “Was the study large enough to pass statistical muster?
  • Was it designed well?
  • Did it last long enough?
  • Were there any other possible explanations for the conclusions of the study or reasons to doubt the findings?
  • Do the conclusions fit with other scientific evidence? If not, why?
  • Do you have the full picture?
  • Have the findings been checked by other experts?
  • What are the implications of the research? Any potential problems or applications?”

Science: Rough Guide to spotting bad science

Science: Evaluating experiments

“The point of the evaluation is to assess whether the experiment you carried out was valid and whether you can make a reliable conclusion based on the data you collected. To do this, you need to comment on:

  • how valid the experiment was (was it a fair test that tested what you wanted it to test?)
  • how accurate your results were
  • how reliable the results were
  • whether the data you collected are sufficient for you to be able to make your conclusion.”

In the next post, I explain the Transformative window. This window also takes a socio-cultural perspective, but with a critical theory/critical literacy focus.

2 responses to “Critical evaluation of information – Situated window

  1. If you teach Hist or Geog to 5/6, have a look at the questions for information sources towards end of this document. Ignore lead in, too complex.


    Sent from my iPad


  2. Pingback: Utilising Prior Learning – The Good Teacher·

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