thing 5: Authority Is Constructed and Contextual

Recommended Resources, Readings, and Examples

Lenker, M. (2016). Motivated Reasoning, Political Information, and Information Literacy Education. portal: Libraries and the Academy, 16(3), 511-528. [paywalled]

Williams, K. (2017). When Information Professions Collide: Applying the ACRL’s Framework to News Media Consumption. Hack Library School

Choose Your Own Adventure Activity

Select one of the following activities to complete:

  1. Locate an example of an article or lesson plan that describes an approach to teaching using the frame Authority is Constructed and Contextual. In a comment, post a link to the article or lesson plan (or a citation if paywalled) along with a short summary of what you read. How could you adapt or build upon this approach at your own institution?
  2. Drawing inspiration from one of the recommended readings, draft your own lesson plan related to the frame Authority is Constructed and Contextual. Upload your lesson plan to Project CORA and/or the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy Sandbox, and post a link to it in a comment.


  1. Avery, S. (2011). Sources Smackdown : Effectively Evaluating Information Sources. In T.R. McDevitt (Ed.), Let the games begin!: engaging students with field-tested interactive information literacy instruction (90-92). New York, NY: Neil-Schuman Publishers.

    I’ve adapted and used this as an activity in one-shot sessions for first year English composition courses. This came out way before the Framework, but I think it’s a good place to bring up authority to students who probably never thought about it before (or see authority as good/bad black/white). I don’t currently have the book with me, so I can only explain my adapted version. Also I’ve switched jobs since I’ve used it last so I can’t link to a LibGuide for a more visual explanation.

    I create a tab on the class LibGuide that has 5 (or however many manageable groups needed to split the class up) subsections. I split the class up into that many groups and assign a letter and tell the groups to go to that letter on the guide. Each group has a different topic and 5 links. I tell the students to look at each of the links and decide (as a group) which resource is the most and least trustworthy and come up with a quick reason why. I don’t tell them that there is one link from each of these categories: blog post, peer-reviewed article, newspaper article, magazine article, and government website. They need at least 10 minutes to do this.

    Then, I go around to each group and have the group talk about their picks. Each group always picks a different type of article than the others for most/least trustworthy and they have really interesting reasoning. I never tell them they’re wrong, but listen and highlight the good thought processes they use to come to this conclusion. I tell them that there’s no right answer, but each resource has their positives and negatives depending on what they’re using it for. This usually is a great jumping off point to show them a database that collects a variety of types of resources (magazine, newspaper, scholarly articles).


  2. I’ve been mentioning “fake news” in some of my IL sessions on evaluating sources. I have come across Vanessa Otero’s media bias chart peridiocally, and wanted to incorporate it in my instruction. This lesson plan from the ACRL Framework Sandbox, “Fake News” is on a Continuum, by Darcy Gervasio, is useful in helping students identify if a news source may be more liberal or conservative. By having students research the news source and placing it on board based on that research, it helps them to think more critically about that particular source.

    I would build upon this lesson by having students create with their own chart, based on the news sources that they currently use, or have heard about.

    I would also include an exercise in searching Google as though in another country (,, etc.) to help students understand that they may get different results from Google depending on which location from which they are searching.


  3. Cristy, it’s great that you’ve already contributed lessons to the Sandbox and Project CORA! I love this lesson: the real life scenario frames the activity well, and your questions for evaluating an expert’s qualifications could lead to some interesting discussion.



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