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Peer Review

Frontline: Hot Guns

by Frontline


Overall Numeric Rating:

4.5 stars
Content Quality: 4.5 stars
Effectiveness: 4.75 stars
Ease of Use: 4.75 stars
Reviewed: May 21, 2009 by Criminal Justice Editorial Board
Overview: This site contains information regarding the handgun debate in the US. It is a supplement to a video that aired on PBS which is available for purchase. From the home page you can link to pages that contain: information about the pros and cons of gun control, interviews with experts, information about the “Ring of Fire,” a page where you can share your opinion, a quiz to test your knowledge, maps that show the affected areas, and information about related sites around the web.
Type of Material: Case study
Recommended Uses: In class, homework, team projects, debate preparation
Technical Requirements: Browser, Flash player
Identify Major Learning Goals: 1. Summarize issues associated with gun control and Second Amendment rights. 2. Identify stakeholders 3. Compare positions of various stakeholders 4. Evaluate the data collected by government agencies and assorted stakeholders.
Target Student Population: Undergraduate law enforcement/criminal justice students; also ideal for sociology undergrads studying social problems.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: None needed – but would be valuable to have already viewed the video.

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 4.5 stars
Strengths: Frontline and PBS have done a wonderful job, as usual, laying out the arguments surrounding the issue of gun control. The site is rich with information from a variety of sources. The expert interviews are wonderful additions and lend credibility to the discussion. There is a balanced representation of data and opinions from assorted stakeholders.
Concerns: There are two main concerns with the site. The first is that the topic is rather narrow and would only be applicable to introductory courses or a course that focuses specifically on this issue. The second is that the video should be watched prior to accessing the information on the site and it's not available online. That would limit its applicability further to on the ground courses and the school would need to purchase the video. Additionally, there is no way for the reader to determine the dates of interviews or the age of much of the data presented.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 4.75 stars
Strengths: The site does a good job of linking the information about gun control to the issue of violent crime. It also does a good job of showing the relationship between the companies who are mainly responsible for providing cheap/easily obtainable guns and the crimes that are committed with them.
Concerns: • Learning objectives are not stated. • Users are not informed about requisite knowledge level to appreciate presented material. • Interviews and some citations are not dated, so users cannot determine currency

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 4.75 stars
Strengths: The site is visually appealing and very easily navigated. I like that students can post their opinions for others to view and that a quiz is provided to test their level of understanding. I also like that transcripts of the video are available online for hearing-impaired students.
Concerns: My concerns are that the interviews would be much more interesting to student if audio was provided rather than having to read the text. The fact that all of the content is print/still photos may be a bit dull for students.

Other Issues and Comments: None