Rethinking Reliability after Students Evaluate a Facebook page about Health Care in Singapore


  • James S. Damico Indiana University
  • Mark Baildon National Institute of Education


reliability, online reading, website evaluation, Singapore, Facebook, health care, complex topics, complex texts, sourcework, discussion


This article considers what happened when a group of secondary level Social Studies students in Singapore evaluated the reliability of an opposition politician’s Facebook page on affordable healthcare. The students in the study found the politician’s Facebook page to be unreliable because of its purpose, motive, or agenda. Findings suggest that even though students were aware of certain factors used to determine source reliability – provenance, purpose, source content, cross-referencing – they seemed unsure about how these factors might be weighed and used together to determine the extent to which the source was reliable. This study illustrates the need for a more comprehensive conceptual understanding of reliability, especially when working with complex sources (e.g., Facebook pages) and complex topics, such as healthcare. The authors outline what this conceptual understanding entails and offer suggestions for promoting discussion among students and teachers in order to help cultivate a conceptual understanding of reliability.

Author Biographies

James S. Damico, Indiana University

Associate Professor, Literacy, Culture, & Language Education Department

Mark Baildon, National Institute of Education

Associate Professor, Humanities and Social Studies Education