Although Wikipedia is frequently used by higher education students as a source of information (Wannemacher & Schulenburg, 2010), there are a few courses in which it plays an actual ‘active’ role within the learning process (Aibar & Lerga, 2015). A pilot developed in 2013 offered the first evidence about the effects of the use of Wikipedia in a course in Statistics (Meseguer-Artola, 2014). However, and contrary to expectations, it showed that Wikipedia had a weak positive effect on the student’s academic performance.
In this paper we have performed a more comprehensive study, and analysed four introductory courses taken by a total of 1,220 students. Each of these courses situated in a specific knowledge area: human resources, statistics, marketing, or consumer behaviour. In all these cases, Wikipedia was used as a primary learning resource, and it was appropriately integrated with the existing learning materials. Participants in the courses were asked to compare these standard materials with Wikipedia and to provide their perceptions on the basis of four quality facets: completeness, reliability, currentness and usefulness.
In order to adequately assess the influence of Wikipedia on the student’s final mark, we have also considered the student’s marks in the previous academic semester – when Wikipedia was not used as a primary course resource.
Through our study, we sought: to explore the student’s perceptions about the quality of Wikipedia, to show the potential positive impact of the active use of Wikipedia on the student’s academic performance, and to explore whether its influence depends on the knowledge area or not.
A range of multivariate statistical techniques has been used to assess the validity of the hypotheses, including contrasts of means, discriminant analysis, and multiple linear regression analysis.
Results support the idea that the student’s perceptions about Wikipedia change across knowledge areas, and also depend on the student’s academic profile. Added to this, we have found evidence confirming the hypotheses that Wikipedia has a positive effect on the student’s academic performance, and that the magnitude of this influence ranges from one course to another.
Aibar, E., & Lerga, M. (2015). Best practice guide to use Wikipedia in university education. Universitat Oberta de Catalunya. http://hdl.handle.net/10609/41662
Caswell, T., Henson, S., Jensen, M., & Wiley, D. (2008). Open Content and Open Educational Resources: Enabling universal education. The International Review Of Research In Open And Distributed Learning, 9(1).
Meseguer-Artola, A. (2014). Learning by comparing with Wikipedia: the value to students’ learning. RUSC. Universities and Knowledge Society Journal, 11(2), 57-69. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.7238/rusc.v11i2.2042.
Wannemacher, K., & Schulenburg, F. (2010). Wikipedia in academic studies: corrupting or improving the quality of teaching and learning?. In Looking toward the future of technology enhanced education: ubiquitous learning and the digital native, M. Ebner and M. Schiefner (Eds.) (pp. 295−310). Hershey, PA: IGI Global.