How are college students using Wikipedia?

A recent study took a look at how and why students use Wikipedia. Here’s what they concluded:

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.

This research suggests that college students are not using Wikipedia as a way out of an assignment but more likely as a way into an assignment.

Why do students use Wikipedia for course–related research?
Why do students use Wikipedia for course–related research?

I would like to see a similar study done at the high school level.

3 thoughts to “How are college students using Wikipedia?”

  1. Even before the study by _______ (one of the peer-reviewed journals) came out and said Wikipedia is as accurate as Britannica, I’ve used Wikipedia as a solid–but not definitive–resource.

    On most topics you can get a good, plain-language summary and there are copious citations to follow. And most topics that come across as questionable are even flagged as such.

    I’m most concerned with, as you suggest, school kids and their ability to “feel out” whether or not something needs to be questioned/researched further. The good news, however, is that for reports no one accepts encyclopedia entries anyway. Or if they do, they don’t accept them exclusively. Primary and secondary sources are the norm, even if encyclopedic sources are allowed. In my school days (before Wikipedia), we were sometimes told at least x number of books and magazines with no more than say 1 source being an encyclopedia or website.

  2. I used Wikipedia a LOT as a source of solutions of difficult integrals. If those pages had been vandalized, I would have done really poorly in QM.

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