Critical Thinking About Sources: Lessons and Activities for First-Year Students

Wednesday, 5/2/2018
  • 2:00 PM-3:00 PM (Eastern)
  • 1:00 PM-2:00 PM (Central)
  • 12:00 PM-1:00 PM (Mountain)
  • 11:00 AM-12:00 PM (Pacific)

Transitioning from high school to college can be challenging for students and for the educators and librarians who support those students. When students enter college, they encounter new ideas and new expectations for the type of work they will be able to do. And librarians in particular can play an important role in helping these students develop the skills and competencies they need to not only succeed in college, but also in whatever paths they take beyond college. One area that plays an outsized role in ensuring that students succeed in college and beyond is critical thinking. Critical thinking skills are at the heart of the information literacy programs that librarians offer, and librarians are, in turn, uniquely positioned to help new college students develop these vital critical thinking skills and become savvy consumers, producers, and distributors of information.

In this webcast, participants will learn strategies, techniques, and ideas for ways to help students develop their critical thinking skills, with a particular focus on helping students deal with different types of sources. Ensuring that students can not only identify different types of sources, from scholarly works to opinion pieces to sponsored content, but can also delve more deeply into how and why different types of sources are produced can be a way to empower students with the skills they need to find and use information for a variety of purposes. Studies show that teens in particular are susceptible to misinformation, and ensuring that new college students can recognize and comprehend different types of information can also be a way to help students grapple with content that might be misleading or disingenuous.

During the webcast, participants will first unpack some of the concepts, competencies, and ideas surrounding critical thinking skills more broadly and thinking critically about sources more specifically. Next, participants will explore a variety of critical thinking about sources activities and resources that they can incorporate into their teaching and their programs. Finally, participants will consider how critical thinking skills can benefit students and will examine some strategies for discussing these skills with partners and colleagues. This webcast will incorporate time for interactive discussion, online polls, reflection, brainstorming, and sharing ideas. Likewise, participants will leave with concrete strategies, materials, and talking points that they can use in their teaching and outreach efforts.

Learning Outcomes

  • Explore connections between critical thinking skills and information literacy skills, including skills and competencies outlined in the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy 
  • Discover and examine how critical thinking skills can benefit students new to college
  • Develop interactive lessons that enhance students’ critical thinking skills and their ability to think critically about different types of information 
  • Incorporate resources, activities, and lesson ideas into local projects and initiatives
  • Construct strategies for outreach and collaboration around critical thinking skills with partners and colleagues

Who Should Attend

Instruction librarians
First-Year Experience librarians
Librarian who work with undergraduate students


Sarah Morris is a librarian and educator with a decade of experience working in libraries, museums, K-12 schools, and higher education environments. Sarah currently works as a Learning and Assessment Librarian at the University of Texas at Austin. She is also the co-founder and co-director of Nucleus Learning Network, an educational nonprofit that provides professional development, curriculum development, and consulting services to Austin area educators. She is currently partnering with a number of organizations, including Mozilla, to develop news and media literacy curriculum resources for middle and high school students. Sarah has a Master’s degree in the Humanities from the University of Chicago and a Master’s degree in Information Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. Her interests include high school to college transitions, first-year experience, exploring interdisciplinary approaches to information literacy instruction, news and media literacy education, and developing training and mentoring opportunities for new teachers.



ACRL member: $50
ALA member: $75
Nonmember: $90
Student: $40
Group*: $295

* Webcasts take place in an interactive, online classroom environment with one user/one login. If you select the group rate, one person must register, login, and keyboard during the event. A group registration allows an institution to project the Webcast to participants in the same location.

How to Register

  • Locate the webcast by the date of the event under the monthly headings.
  • Select the "Register" link next to the webcast title.
  • You will need to log in with your ALA ID & password. If you do not have an ALA ID & password, you will be asked to create one in order to register.

Webcasts will be recorded and made available to registrants as an archive, so if you sign up but cannot attend the live event, you will receive the archived webcast recording.

Tech Requirements

ACRL Webcasts are held in an Adobe Connect virtual classroom. Speakers or a headset for listening to the presentation are required. You may ask questions through text-based chat.  Adobe works on both PC and Apple platforms.


If you have a question about an e-Learning opportunity or need to make arrangements for special assistance, please contact Margot Conahan (