Bill MacKenty

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Why Wikipedia?

Posted in Educational Tech Design on 17 - March 2010 at 04:07 PM (14 years ago). 210 views.

Interesting research here (pdf here) that discusses why and how college students use wikipedia.

We have pushed wikipedia as a beginning source for research, and asked students to triangulate their data - that is, find other sources which support the data found on a wikipedia page. This research seems to confirm students are using this strategy. The findings:

  1.    Students’ driving need for background context makes Wikipedia one of the predictable workarounds that many students use, especially during the first stages of their research process.
  2.    Course–related research may begin with Wikipedia, but it rarely ends there. In our study, students employed a complex information problem strategy in their research processes, reliant on a mix of information resources that were from scholarly sources and public Internet sites.
  3.    In our study, we found the combination of coverage, currency, comprehensibility, and convenience drives Wikipedia use, in a world where credibility is less of a given — or an expectation from students — with each passing day.
  4.    Overall, college students use Wikipedia. But, they do so knowing its limitation. They use Wikipedia just as most of us do — because it is a quick way to get started and it has some, but not deep, credibility.

My favorite part of this quote is “credibility is less of a given”.  Things actually are not as sure as they were in the past, and students seem to understand this.