Issues and Controversies (database)
Overview: For students that have to debate on a topic, or need to provide a balanced view of a current issue or controversy, this database can be of great assistance. The front page highlights particular issues in the headlines that might be of interest. You can also search by keywords, limiting information to a certain date range and by where it pulls the keyword from, making this a similar way to search as Google, though with more options for limiting results. It also provides resources for students like how to cite sources and create topical timelines, and for educators on how to use this service. Lists of possible topics for study contain a summary of the issue, additional sub-topics within that subject, articles, pictures, other places to contact for information, and a bibliography.
Critical Evaluation: In contrast to the Opposing Viewpoints, the structure of these pages is a little more confusing and difficult to skim. Each page does offer a summary of each side of the argument at the top, but further information is written in a longer piece that provides background information and statistics, and then goes into more detail about the differing opinions on the subject. There are links on the side of the page with overviews, news articles on the subject, and related articles, which might allow a student to pull primarily from this database for a basic assignment or more detailed one.
The resources specifically for students seem rather useful, and compile materials not specific to an opposing viewpoints assignment. There are articles on presenting your research such as writing and delivering a speech or how to avoid plagiarism. This section provides helpful bullet points that are further divided into a section so that teens can skim for the information most relevant. There are also resources on how to analyze and understand information, like editorial cartoons, or online sources. If students utilize these resources instead of just the straight facts, it could improve their future research and writing and presenting skills, but I suspect they are not as widely used as the other information.
Interestingly enough, there are tabs at the top of the website for encyclopedia, almanac, and curriculum tools. They did not seem as related to the purpose of the website, but do provide additional information on other potential subjects. The almanac has categories to search, but the encyclopedia does not, making it slightly less user friendly in my eyes, since I’m not sure what is available there.
Reader’s Annotation: Students looking for a controversial topic and a look at both sides of the argument can turn to Issues and Controversies for a variety of topics and plenty of balanced information.
Information about the source: Issues and Controversies is provided by Facts on Files Services.
Curriculum ties, if any: This will be a helpful resource in history or sociology classes, and for class debates.
Booktalking Ideas: I don’t imagine that teens will necessarily flock to this resource without needing it for homework, so I would emphasize the ways that this can help students find resources for homework and advice on preparing it.
Reading Level/Interest Age: The writing style will make this more understandable to older users, but I think it will be a valuable resource to people of a variety of ages, and not only teens.
Challenge Issues: None.
Why did you include this database? : Most high school students need to show that they can critically look at an issue and write or present a persuasive argument. This provides a cohesive place to get information on a variety of topics, and find additional resources if needed.