Wikipedia editing and information literacy: a case study

Publication Date09 January 2017
Date09 January 2017
AuthorLydia Dawe,Ainslie Robinson
SubjectLibrary & information science,Librarianship/library management,Library & information services
Wikipedia editing and
information literacy: a case study
Lydia Dawe
Library, University of Notre Dame Australia, Fremantle, Australia, and
Ainslie Robinson
LTO, University of Notre Dame Australia, Fremantle, Australia
Purpose This paper aims to evaluate the success of a Wikipedia editing assessment designed to improve
the information literacy skills of a cohort of rst-year undergraduate health sciences students.
Design/methodology/approach In this action research case study (known hereafter as “the project” to
differentiate this action research from the students’ own research), students researched, wrote and published
Wikipedia articles on Australia-centric health topics. Students were given a pre- and post-test to assess levels
of self-condence in nding, evaluating and referencing information. Student work was also analysed in terms
of article length and quantity and the type of information sources used.
Findings Tests revealed that students’ self-condence in their information literacy skills improved overall.
Analysis of student work revealed that students wrote longer articles and incorporated more references than
expected. References used were of appropriate quality relevant to the article despite minimal instructions.
Originality/value There are few studies that investigate information literacy development through
Wikipedia editing in Australian universities. This study shows that Wikipedia editing is an effective way to
carry out student assessment prior to essay writing and an innovative platform to improve information
literacy skills in undergraduate students.
Keywords Health sciences, Information literacy, Authentic learning, Enquiry-based learning,
Librarian, Wikipedia
Paper type Case study
The School of Health Sciences at The University of Notre Dame, Australia (Notre Dame),
offers courses in health and physical education, preventative health, outdoor recreation,
exercise and sports science and biomedical science. As a result, the rst-year
communications unit, “Academic Research and Writing in the Health Sciences” (unit code
CO115) contains a diverse student group. The student body mostly consists of younger
students undertaking their rst semester of study at university. The CO115 unit has a unique
position in the School of Health Sciences because the health sciences librarian (HSL) works
with the unit coordinator to design, develop and partially deliver some of the course content
as a way of embedding information literacy (IL) within the unit.
The CO115 unit has historically been a challenging unit for instructors. Students are
acclimatising to university demands and juggling different units and schedules for the rst
time. They are often unprepared for the rigors of scholarly research and writing at the
Theauthors would like to thank Naomi Trengove (University of Notre Dame Australia) for providing us with
the opportunity to explore this idea with her students, and Gideon Digby (Wikimedia Foundation) for his
expertise regarding Wikipedia and the editing process. The authors would also like to acknowledge the
tutors, Tegan Grace and Amanda Timler (University of Notre Dame Australia), for their co-operation with
delivering the assessment. This project obtained ethics approval from the University’s Human Research Ethics
Committee. Students were given the option to opt out of having their information used in this research project.
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
Received 23 September 2016
Revised 14 November 2016
Accepted 28 November 2016
Informationand Learning Science
Vol.118 No. 1/2, 2017
©Emerald Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/ILS-09-2016-0067

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