Websites That Smell?!

You’ve likely heard of various mnemonic acronyms designed to help students remember the checklist for evaluating information and websites. The CRAAP or RADCAB tests may ring a bell or perhaps these are the very ones you use.  Many school and academic staff have been using these “tests” or similar checklists for many years.  Now enter the scene, FART test!  Yep, that’s right, FART test. 

Amy Gillespie shares this teaching strategy in her recent Knowledge Quest blog post, “Web Evaluation: Does This Website Smell Funny to You?”  She has relied on the CRAAP test to teach information evaluation skills to her middle and high school students but was in need of something more age-appropriate for elementary students.  Gillespie admits that using the FART test does result in a loss of about 5 minutes of class time to giggles and a variety of fart-like noises.  But she assures us that it’s well worth it.

Here are the actual FART test questions according to Gillespie:

F: Is the site Friendly to the eyes? Is it easy to read? Did the creator take time to make a well designed website? Is the site free of lots of flashy things that distract you from the text? If someone doesn’t bother to present the information in a neat fashion, the information may not be worth using.

A: Does the Author have Authority? Is he an expert on the issue? Does the author identify herself and give you a way to contact her and ask a question? If someone doesn’t bother to take credit for his work, that may be a sign that he doesn’t want to be connected to it.

R: Is the information Repeated elsewhere? Does the author cite her sources so you can verify her information? If you find the most fascinating tidbit of information, but only one person claims to know it, and can’t tell you where she learned that, and no other source confirms it, it’s probably not a piece of information you want to use.

T: Is the information Timely? When was the information published? Is your topic time sensitive? Has the website been updated recently? Old information doesn’t help with current issue research and websites that have been abandoned may not be the best sources.

Finally, you have to ask yourself, does something smell bad about this site?

A Gillespie. (2016, Feb. 9). Web Evaluation: Does This Website Smell Funny to You?

I have to agree with Gillespie that this evaluation checklist is, indeed, memorable and provides students with a natural bridge to the CRAAP test.