Skip to main content

FYS Library Instruction: CJF 101 - Criminal Justice FYS

This Guide will serve as a depositary for Class Assignments, Handouts, PPT presentations, and other materials that can be used by librarians during one-shot LI sessions and in for credit Library classes.

Class Assignment

No Assignment

Lesson Plan

CJF 101 - Criminal Justice

Activity: Evaluating Reliability in Resources

Location: Smart classroom


Learning Outcomes

Students will be introduced to the concept of library academic resources.

Students will learn the strengths and weaknesses of different forms of information.



Critical evaluation is an important skill that involves questioning different elements of an information resource to determine its authority on the topic it addresses. Students will practice this process by engaging in a discussion about the reliability of a specific resource. They will be encouraged to contribute to an in depth evaluation of a resource as a group.  


This session will give students the chance to develop integrative learning by guiding them through a complete evaluation of information media related to their prospective field. They will learn how to navigate information in a digital format, deconstruct an argument and recognize different types of authority.



Core Competencies


Integrative Learning


Global Learning


  1. Most CJF 101 instruction will take place in a non-lab classroom. For this lesson plan, you will ask students to work with an article to practice evaluating a source. You can do any combination of the following:

    1. Summarize the article and have students read part of the article during class

    2. Arrange with Media to provide laptops or iPads for the class

    3. Print out the first and last pages of an article for students

  2. You can use any Criminal Justice-related article you wish, but we recommend these two:

    1. “Machine bias” from ProPublica:

    2. “Courts are Using AI to Sentence Criminals. That Must Stop Now,” from Wired:

  3. After introduction, ask students get out phones, personal tablets or Library provided iPads and pull-up the reading. Start with a general discussion on the article. What opinions do the students have? Is it a good thing to be able to predict criminal behavior? What could go wrong? How is it relevant to their major or prospective careers? The main point should be that CJ majors need to work with this kind of information to succeed in their field. (5 minutes)

  4. Quickly introduce evaluation and general characteristics of Popular vs. Scholarly resources. Slides are provided for those interested and available here: Provide students with a quick introduction to evaluation so they can put the core concepts to practice in the discussion that follows. (10 minutes)  

  5. Demonstrate how to critically evaluate a source through discussion of the article. The real point of the lesson is for the students to see the structure and various sources cited throughout the article.

    1. What characteristics indicate that it is popular (interactive pictures, appears to be written for general audience)? What characteristics are scholarly (cites sources, provides data)?

    2. Who are the authors, what are their credentials (see bottom of page, journalists for Propublica)?

    3. What is their purpose? Who is the producer, funder, publisher (About Us page on Propublica)?

    4. Where does the information come from? Sources cited in the article are available as a link. Students can click on each one and practice evaluating it. Discuss the different examples of authority in referenced materials. For example, popular news article (“Associated Press”), scholarship (“survey of risk assessment tools”; Social Science Research Network paper), government documents (“reform bill”; Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015), reports from for-profit company (“published a validation study”; Northpointe Institute for Public Management Inc), reports from non-profit agencies (“examined 19 different risk methodologies”; Justice Programs Office).

Finally, ask students to decide if the article is credible or not? Why? Which of the criteria discussed was the most important in their decision. (10 minutes)

  1. Introduce Library Databases and demonstrate how to find a related scholarly article. (5 minutes)


(Optional) Homework / ePortfolio Assignment

Watch this video of a TED Talk:

Write 2-3 sentences summarizing the video. What was the video about? How did it relate to the reading from ProPublica?

Write 2-3 sentences about what you learned. Are you concerned about the use of algorithms to sort and filter your web search results?

Post your response to your ePortfolio.

Link to First Year Seminar Library ePortfolio page

This page exists in every students' ePortfolio (under College Connections). You can use this to show them the Library's presence in ePortfolio.

Library Media Resources Center
LaGuardia Community College
31-10 Thomson Avenue, room E101
Long Island City, NY 11101
Email the Library