History and Political Science
EVALUATING A WEBSITE AS A SOURCE FOR LEARNING HISTORY
Directions: You will write a five paragraph essay evaluating a website (not a part of Wikipedia, and not a “wiki”-related cite) that focuses on a historical topic. You may choose the website, and you may choose the topic. However, the topic must be one that falls within our time frame (pre-European exploration to 1877), and must be in reference to United States/American history. Your assignment is to identify the website, evaluate it as a good source for learning history or as a bad source for learning history, and explain why. Your paper must be two and half to four pages long, with five paragraphs. A solid paragraph, with a topic sentence, evidence, analysis, and a transitional sentence will be about one-half a page long. Be sure to answer ALL of the questions in the assignment. Submit your finished essay and your completed checklist as an email attachment to [email protected], via your CougarMail account or submit it as an attachment through Blackboard email.
Paragraph #1: Introduction. Hook me in. Start your essay with a question, or a quotation, or some statement that makes me want to read your paper. Within the introduction, tell me what the website is. Be sure to give the complete web address, and include the date on which you visited the site. You can even say why you chose that site if you want—but stay in third person point of view (do not use “I” or “we” or “you,” etc.). Present your thesis statement at the end of the first paragraph. Your thesis statement is the argument you are going to make: Is this a good site or is it bad for learning history? Why? A thesis may be similar to: “This website serves as a good source for learning history because…” or “This website is not a good source for learning history because…”
Paragraph #2: Tell me about this site. What is it about? Is there an objective? What is that objective? Whose site is it? Do they have an agenda? Who is the target audience?
Paragraph #3: What is on the site? What is useful? Is anything useful? How so? As a historian, what is helpful? Is it reliable? How do you know?
Paragraph #4: What is bad about the website? What are the pitfalls for using it? Does it give misinformation? How do you know? Is it too complicated? Is it hard to find using key words? Is it biased? How so?
Paragraph #5: Conclusion. Wrap it up. Re-argue your thesis. Summarize the key points of what you have written, and be sure it all relates back to your thesis statement. Include a few thoughts on the use of websites when studying history. Conclude with something interesting and relevant.
Tips: This paper is worth 15% of your final grade. Be sure to follow the Rules for Writers. Write a formal essay, in third person. Cite quotations using Chicago Manual of Style footnotes or endnotes. Papers which constantly violate the Rules for Writers will not earn better than a “B” grade. Papers that fall short of 2.5 pages will earn no better than a “D.”
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History and Political Science