Evidence from the Experts

Identify/Generate the principle
Time: 20-30 minutes (plus students' prep work)

This activity helps students to understand what qualifies as evidence in different fields. Because it involves student research, it works best after/in conjunction with the class visit to the library.
In class, brainstorm a list of experts in different areas who might write about your topic. For example, if your topic is food, scientists write about cholesterol's impact on the heart, economists about farm subsidies, politicians about genetically modified foods, movie critics about Chocolat, psychologists about the effects of the family meal, etc. Assign two or three students to each kind of expert.

For homework, ask students to find an article in a journal written by experts for other experts in their assigned field. Students should print/photocopy the article, and highlight all of the author's evidence.

In class, group students together who studied different fields. They should discuss how their evidence differs, and why different fields might value different kinds of evidence.
Come together as a class to discuss findings.
Variation A: In class, group students together who studied the same field. They should discuss what counts as evidence in their field, and what conclusions about the field they can draw based on its evidence standards. Then, come together as a class to discuss findings, and to consider how and why evidence differs.

Variation B: Put journal articles on reserve/on toolkit so that students don't have to search for them.