Introduction to source analysis and critical thinking in times of crisis

Exploring claims and perspectives, and evaluating evidence.

During a crisis we are all exposed to lots of information and multiple perspectives. This section provides some guiding questions for young people to consider as they navigate sources of information, which are often presented as objective evidence. 

Exploring claims and perspectives, and evaluating evidence requires guidance, especially given the large amount of ‘evidence’ available to young people through social media and other digital sources. It is important to support and equip them with the necessary skills to critically navigate this ‘evidence’.  

Regardless of the issue being studied young people should develop skills that help them to: 

  • recognize the subjective nature of evidence 
  • examine sources of information and their interpretations, noting where they confirm, complement or contradict each other 
  • recognize the value and uses of sources, and the reasons to use them cautiously 
  • recognize and appreciate why and how opinions and interpretations differ 
  • critically engage with different and new perspectives. 

Guiding questions for evaluating sources and evidence 

Origins and purpose 

Where did the source or ‘evidence’ come from?  

Who made it, wrote it, photographed it?  

Why was it created?  

What are some potential biases and limitations of the source or ‘evidence’? 

Meaning and methods 

What are the essential ideas presented?  

How was this ‘evidence’ collected? 

How effectively are the ideas and evidence communicated?  

Confirmation and use 

Is the source or ‘evidence’ endorsed or trusted by experts in the field? How do you know this? 

How has the source or ‘evidence’ been used by different people, groups, communities, or organisations?  

Can the claims in the source or ‘evidence’ be verified?  

Justification 

How can you justify that this source or ‘evidence’ is relevant and useful to your understanding of an issue?  

For ideas about teaching strategies to use with students when exploring claims and perspectives, and evaluating evidence click here.

Read more about ‘teaching discernment of information and media in times of crisis’. 

External links