The Impact of A Wikipedia Assignment on Student Learning
This study describes how a Wikipedia assignment was integrated into a psychology course to replace the traditional research paper typically assigned in such courses. Thirty three students worked on significantly expanding and improving eight different Wikipedia articles over a period 15 weeks. In addition, a comparative sample of 33 undergraduates enrolled in general psychology and completing a traditional research project was also assessed to ascertain whether the Wikipedia assignment yields any additional benefits over and above those experienced as a result of a typical introductory psychology course research assignment. A survey was administered at the end of the academic semester in order to capture and quantify the perceptions of students, in both the Wikipedia and the traditional classrooms, of their course experiences. The survey yielded both qualitative and quantitative data on the perceived benefits of the Wikipedia assignment across multiple domains, and on ways the Wikipedia assignments could be improved. The Wikipedia assignment increased students’ perceived ability to work collaboratively more than the traditional research paper assignment. In contrast, the traditional research paper assignment increased student’s perceived research skills more than the Wikipedia assignment. Students indicated that they feel gratified by the permanency and accessibility of their contributions to Wikipedia but that they also had difficulties in learning and using the Wikipedia editing code. Focus group data were collected four months after the end of the course to shed additional light on students’ long-term perceptions of the Wikipedia editing experience. The findings from this study suggest different strategies that instructors and Wikipedia monitors could use in order to make the Wikipedia editing experience more effective for students.
Index Terms- active learning, college learning, introductory psychology, Wikipedia