With such an abundance of educational information out on the Web, we found it imperative to have sets of criteria for deciphering the useful sites from the junky sites. Not all the information out there on the Web is of quality. With the help of several sources, we have come up with two major sets of criteria, one for judging the site's educational material and one for judging the site's structure.

Web Site Criteria

Educational Criteria

Web Site Criteria

Home Page Contents

  • easy to read title immediately tells the reader about the site
  • very clear and precise
  • opening summary clues the user to what is at the site
  • hierarchy map gives an overview of the site layout
  • autobiography link gives developers background

Information Organization

  • information is subdivided into small, discrete and logically-related bits
  • a hierarchy is used to group and form relationships among bits
  • user to can quickly scan and locate information
  • the organized information either goes from most important to most optional or most general to most specific

Information Layout

  • information distribution happens quickly
  • site sticks with consistent layout methods
  • information must be concise
  • site stays away from television disease stricken pages Tufte pg.
    • thin substance
    • short attention span
    • over-produced styling
    • disdain for the audience and content

Site Layout

  • one general page layout pattern holds consistent throughout the site
  • small percentage of the interface houses computer administration
  • graphics and text information are equally proportional
  • site stays within the vertical and horizontal boundaries of the screen
  • site design is simple, consistent, and to the point

Site Organization

  • site is aesthetically pleasing
  • familiar and logical metaphors are used
  • a balance exists between all parts of the site
  • site has clear relations between sections
  • organization and structure of the site corresponds with its purpose

Menu Design

  • menus depict exactly what is available at that site.
  • menu design is neither too shallow nor too deep
  • there are not layers of nested menus to dig through
  • menus contain a minimum of 5 to 7 links, but are too boged down

Page Colors and Types

  • type color and background color form a readable interface
  • no over embellishment
  • headlines and titles avoid all one case writing. ex. all uppercase
  • a few quality title styles are chosen and then used consistently
  • reasonable amount of characters per line
  • fonts are readable


  • interesting, strong and appropriate graphics only
  • graphics have a purpose for being at the site
  • downloading time for the sites graphics stays under 10 seconds
  • No extravagant graphics

Links and Navigation

  • appropriate number of buttons link quickly and easily to other sites
  • links to other sites contain a short, informational bit of annotation
  • the site links work
  • button bars on every page contain information about the site:
    • author, date of update, e-mail to webmaster
    • provide links to home page and other major pages
  • all icons and links come across as clear, useful, and predictable
  • no "dead-end" pages

Web Design Philosophy

  • language level is written appropriately for the user
  • web page can stand alone
  • timely upkeep is a must
  • pages do not rely solely on graphics to relay their information
  • users can to get in, get what they want, and move on.

Educational Criteria


  • Emphasizes depth of understanding as opposed to breadth.
  • Organized around themes, not around facts.
  • Connects with real experiences and problem solving.
  • Has Hands-on element.
  • Is accurate and correct
  • Vocabulary of science is respected.
  • Explanations embroider the accumulation of knowledge.
  • Contains detailed descriptions with explanations of how we know this.


  • Language is accessible to students
  • Written in a lively, engaging style
    • Instructional material is NOT choppy prose driven by readability formulas.
    • Instructional material respects the language of science and respects the intelligence of the student.
    • Vocabulary is not the main focus of the text.
    • Glossaries do not merely paraphrase the sentences in the test in which these terms appear.
    • Instructional materials reflect the use of measurement units that will be likely to be understood by students.
    • Instructional material does not contain euphemisms (usually a weaker pseudo synonym or a word with more neutral value in social context) as a substitute for the genuine scientific term or concept.
  • Instructional materials are open to inquiry, open to controversy, and non-dogmatic.
    • Instructional materials explain and exemplify the nature of science as a form of inquiry and understanding.
    • Instructional materials encourage responsible, science-based discussion of controversial or contentious issues.
    • Instructional material is not dogmatic, but directs the student toward inquiry rather than conclusions.
  • Material is integrated with other disciplines


  • Connects with experience of student.
    • Instructional material involves students in science through problem solving and decision making.
    • Science discoveries are presented in the social, political, and historical contexts in which they took place.
    • Activities are meaningful and integrative.
  • Meets the needs of all students (diversity, learning styles, etc.)
    • Instructional practices are based on current research on cultural learning styles and it is integrated in the design of the students' materials.
    • Full range of learning goals are part of the program for every student.
    • The knowledge and processes are relevant (to the extent possible) to students' every day life.
    • The material emphasizes active endeavors rather than passive ones.
  • Assessment is integrative and oriented toward solving problems, not simply recall-based.
    • Objective tests measure recall and some integration of facts, ideas, and concepts.
    • It uses real-world problem solving where students work in pairs or teams using scientific investigation to find answers as an assessment tool.
    • Written work provides deeper insights in the creative processes and integrates understanding of students.
    • Projects and essays integrate writing skills and language arts concepts in the science curriculum and are used to interface with those disciplines where nonfiction literature is encouraged.
    • Portfolios of their work in science class, including class exercises, team work, reports on activities, creative projects, designs for experiments, and observational accounts of their results are valid assessments.


Benchmarks for Science Literacy. (1993). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Horton, S., and P., Lynch. (Jan. 1997). Yale C/AIM Web Style Guide. http://info.med.yale.edu/caim/manual/contents.html/

National Science Education Standards. (1996). Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

Rutherford, F. J., & Ahlgren, A. (1990). Science for All Americans. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Science Framework for California Public Schools Kindergarten through Grade Twelve. (pp. 198-218). (1990). Sacramento, CA: California Department of Education.

Tufte, E. (1997). Visual Explanations: Images and Quantities, Evidence and Narrative. Cheshire, Connecticut: Graphics Press.