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Who Can You Trust? Health Information and the Internet: Curriculum Sourcebook

Sabrina Kurtz-Rossi
Author(s) Organizational Affiliation: 
River Valley Healthy Communities Coalition (RVHCC), and the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, New England Region.
Resource Type: 
Number of Pages: 
Product Type: 
Skill Level: 
NRS EFL 3--ABE Intermediate Low
NRS EFL 4--ABE Intermediate High
NRS EFL 5--ESL High Intermediate ESL
NRS EFL 6--Advanced ESL Literacy

The goal of this Curriculum Sourcebook is to improve health information literacy skills among youth and young adults and increase community access to reliable Internet-based health information for informed and empowered decision making. To achieve its goal, the curriculum is best accomplished through collaboration between community organizations, local schools and public librarians that offer free and public-access to computers and the Internet.

This Curriculum Sourcebook was developed by the River Valley Healthy Communities Coalition (RVHCC) in order to share lessons learned and encourage similar efforts by other Healthy Communities Coalitions. The sourcebook includes a three-lesson curriculum with student handouts, a description of the RVHCC Health Information Literacy Outreach Project, and the curriculum pilot and evaluation results.

The curriculum was piloted in Oxford County, Maine by teachers and
librarians working with middle and high school youth and young adults in non-formal adult education settings. It was also used successfully with 5th and 6th graders. The curriculum includes three, one-hour lessons and an optional intergenerational, project-based learning component to encourage students to share what they have learned about using the Internet to find reliable health information with others in their families and communities. For optimal instruction, the curriculum should be implemented in a computer lab with live access to the Internet for all students.

Learning Objectives

Upon completing the curriculum students will be able to:

  1. Use the Internet to search for and find health information
  2. Evaluate the reliability of the health information they find on the Internet
  3. Answer health questions relevant to themselves and their families using the internet
  4. Share what they learn about finding reliable Internet-based health information with others in their family and community
  5. Demonstrate health information literacy skills
Benefits and Uses: 

This is a great and recent resource for all of us. The curriculum was prepared against learners’ needs. Then, it was field tested with that audience. The result is a series of activities that can be reproduced at any adult learning center, or in tutoring or library-based mentoring settings. The curriculum engages the learner and is focused on a variety of learners, including adults, children and the elderly.

This Sourcebook is well-organized and clear and includes the full curriculum, handouts, and a description of the formative research and evaluation results used to develop this final product.

For a more thorough account of the formative research process and the results of the pilot testing, please see Health Information Literacy Outreach: Improving Health Literacy and Access to Reliable Health Information Online in Rural Oxford County Maine:

In the article noted above, the authors noted some useful lessons learned and some ideas to improve the project design, which could be most useful to take forward into future work. These include the importance of a well-connected coalition, adding a mini-curriculum for librarians to work one-on-one with patrons, fully supporting library partners in their outreach efforts, and ways to develop enthusiasm and support for project-based community outreach activities.

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