Case study: Wikipedia editing assessment

/Case study: Wikipedia editing assessment

Case study: Wikipedia editing assessment


Dr Michael Muthukrishna
Department of Psychological and Behavioural Science

Course Name: PS110 – Foundations of Psychological Science

Level: First and second year undergraduates

Class size: 17

Learning objectives

  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Critical Thinking
  • Digital Literacy
  • Engagement
  • Research skills
  • Specialist skills
  • Time management
  • Writing Skills

Assessment type: Individual & summative

Duration: over 20 weeks

Supportive documentation

Students said:

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Dr Muthukrishna says…

I asked students to to select and improve a Wikipedia page related to the course. Wikipedia and the American Psychological Society have a “Wikipedia Initiative” where they provide resources on how to edit Wikipedia and point students to which articles are most in need of editing. Students typically wrote a new section on an existing article or made substantial improvements throughout the article.

The assessment provided students the opportunity to edit one of the largest internet resources, which they have all no doubt used. It offered them an opportunity to learn IT skills, how to perform a literature review, how to select good sources, and how to convey information in a simple, but unbiased manner.

The best part of the assessment was seeing students transition from fear for how to go about contributing to something that seems so much larger than they are to universal satisfaction with having contributed something to Wikipedia. As best I can tell, all student contributions persisted well after the edits were made – the Wikipedia editors were happy with their contributions.

The main benefits to the students was a real world use of the skills and knowledge they acquire in class. By having to explain content in an encyclopaedic style, students confirmed what they truly understood and discovered the gaps in their knowledge. They were also forced to dive deeper and teach themselves specific topics of interest, finding and reading primary literature.

Feedback opportunities for this assessment came primarily from the large community of editors at Wikipedia. The conversations between editors and students and feedback on their contributions were available to me when marking the assessment.

Students participating in this assessment were also asked to write a reflective essay. The essay itself was not marked, but gave students an opportunity to highlight aspects of their contribution that they wanted the marker to pay particular attention. These tended to be parts they were particularly proud of. Feedback was universally positive!