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POV/Bias Detection Lesson

Social Studies Lessons for High School is designed for social studies teachers to use with their government and history courses. It was developed in response to a shift in education throughout our country: a move away from rote memorization and toward the critical thinking skills necessary for many of the new performance assessment programs.

Each lesson will enable teachers to teach seven specific critical thinking skills in a step-by-step process. The information has been adapted for old media and new media formats. Web sites will be provided that will allow teachers to choose the most appropriate resource for the selected activity. All selections can be copied for classroom use. Teachers may adapt activities to allow students to complete assignments via the web.

Bob Black is former Teachers Network web mentor. He is a social studies teacher at the Harbor City Learning Center, located across the street from the historic Edgar Allen Poe House  in Baltimore, MD.


Writers often try to persuade their readers to accept a certain viewpoint by presenting facts and opinions. The reader must analyze the reasoning that the author uses in support of his/her point of view. Read carefully to detect evidence of bias or weakness in the author's arguments: 

  • generalizations or exaggerations
  • loaded (emotionally charged) words/images
  • opinions stated as facts

The same criteria can be used to evaluate other media: television news reports, movies, current events programs, Internet web sites, public speakers.

Model for Analysis

What is the author's purpose?

What are the author's arguments in support of his/her viewpoint?

Are generalizations or exaggerations used? Give evidence from the source.

Are any opinions stated as facts? Give evidence from the source.

Are emotionally "loaded" words/images used? Give evidence.

Does the author's bias weaken his/her arguments? Explain.

Describe how you were able to identify the author's point of view. 


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