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ERIC Number: EJ1089133
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014
Pages: 15
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: EISSN-1933-5954
Wikipedia and the Wisdom of Crowds: A Student Project
Barnhisel, Greg; Rapchak, Marcia
Communications in Information Literacy, v8 n1 p145-159 2014
Students in a senior English class examined the question of whether the "wisdom of experts" or "the wisdom of crowds" is more reliable and useful in a writing course by engaging in a parallel Wikipedia project. Each student either created a new entry or made significant changes to an existing Wikipedia entry, tracked changes to their contributions, and then wrote a paper and gave a presentation reflecting on what they learned; simultaneously, the class as a whole collaborated on a Wikipedia entry about a local landmark's controversy. Background readings familiarizing students with Wikipedia's procedures, as well as critical and philosophical interpretations of Wikipedia's significance, provided students perspective on Wikipedia's utility. While the instructor expected students to enter with an uncritical understanding of Wikipedia's reliability and then to see Wikipedia's fundamental untrustworthiness, students' work demonstrated that they entered the class skeptical about Wikipedia and that their projects showed them that Wikipedia was mostly reliable and useful. In this experiment, students showed that they were at an intermediate stage of "personal epistemology" and still had not achieved the level of reflective judgment sought by the school's information-literacy competency goals.
Communications in Information Literacy. Director, University of Oklahoma-Tulsa Library, Schusterman Center, 4502 East 41st Street, Tulsa, OK 74135. Tel: 918-660-3222; Fax: 918-660-3215; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Pennsylvania
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A