Place strategy

OHIO Students Place First, Second, and Third in International Wikipedia Editing Contest

“The Wikipedia Project is a way for students to reflect on everything they’ve done in their courses and then go to the deeper levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning to edit the articles,” Lonnie Welch , Charles R. Jr. and Professor Marilyn Stuckey in the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, said.

In Fall 2021 and Spring 2022, Computer Science students in Data Mining and Data Science worked toward the same goal to complete their course – improving a Wikipedia page with more robust descriptions, key visuals, and reliable sources. This common goal was part of a final project, allowing students to review and edit their draft pages before their final submission.

“A Wikipedia-based writing activity provides a more authentic learning experience than a traditional term paper and offers students the opportunity to practice disseminating domain-specific knowledge to a wide audience while navigating the complexity and the ambiguity of working on a real-life problem,” Welch wrote in the project description.

Hunter Burden, BSCS ’21, participated in this project in the Data Mining and Data Science courses. During the final semester of her undergraduate degree in computer science, Burden worked collaboratively with her teammates to improve a paper on radar charts, a type of chart that measures multivariate data, such as performance metrics, where at least three variables are represented as rays or points. on a wheel. The culmination of his team’s hard work resulted in a first place finish in the International Society for Computational Biology’s Wikipedia competition.

“The competition supports the mission of the ISCB by promoting the improvement of topics related to computational biology on Wikipedia, which is widely accessible around the world as a free educational resource. Since Wikipedia is often the first port of call for someone learning about a new topic, ensuring computational biology is well represented on Wikipedia helps maximize the field’s visibility and impact on society” , Alastair Kilpatrick, competition organizer and bioinformatician at the University of Edinburgh, said.

Although winning the competition was a benefit of this project, perhaps more importantly, the project helped assess learning outcomes, indicating that students not only learned key computing topics, but were also able to communicate on these topics in an informative and reliable manner.

“Before winning, I felt like we had done a good job. Dr. Welch asked us honest questions throughout the semester about our process and the content of the page. When we presented everything to the end, we were really happy with the result,” Burden said.

This evaluation strategy was not accidental. Through collaborative work with instructional designer Audra Anjum, Welch decided to plan her class around learning outcomes and goals. Then he designed evaluation strategies informed by his expected results. He used the example of tying his shoes to communicate his view of the structure of his course.

“If someone is learning to tie their shoes, you can either ask them a series of questions about shoe tying or just ask them to tie their shoes to show you that they’ve learned that skill,” Welch explained.

By creating Wikipedia pages, students demonstrated that they had learned valuable computer science topics by writing about those topics for the layperson, creating visuals, incorporating data, and identifying trusted sources that reinforce their edits on the page. .

“We specifically developed the Wikipedia project not only to create a unique and interesting experience [for] students, but also to demonstrate that they have achieved the learning outcomes,” said Anjum.

Additionally, this project allowed students to practice critical written communication, a skill often underestimated in engineering and computer science courses.

“It’s an art to write concise things. You don’t want to overload people with jargon. This is an important computer skill when writing comments or updates on your work, so another party knows what’s going on and what their task is,” Burden said.

“You have to be able to communicate your ideas so people get excited about what you do. A lot of the written communication we do is to sell things, ideas, and ourselves. In IT, you need to be effective in communicating requirements, designs, and test plans,” Welch said.

Using their written communication skills, students collaboratively enhanced articles to improve the overall landscape of Wikipedia – a resource often stigmatized due to the user-editable nature of each page. Under these circumstances, however, the students demonstrated that thoughtful and informed editing can improve the landscape of Wikipedia.

“Wikipedia has a reputation for being unreliable because many people can contribute content. Wikipedia, however, is a widely accessible open educational resource for students and teachers. Experts have a responsibility to their professions to ensure their fields are accurately and broadly represented on Wikipedia to discourage the spread of misinformation,” Anjum said.

Editing a Wikipedia page well can be a big undertaking, but the end product results in a more informative and accessible resource for people around the world.

“It is important for university students (and academics in general) to edit Wikipedia pages, as they have significant domain knowledge that can significantly improve Wikipedia’s coverage of their topic of interest. They should also have a vested interest in ensuring that Wikipedia articles describing their topic of interest are accurate and up-to-date,” Kilpatrick said.

Explore the winning teams’ Wikipedia articles in Radar Charts (first place), Biological Networks (second place), and Cosegregration (third place).

To learn more about how to incorporate Wikipedia editing into program design, read this article by Anjum, Kilpatrick, and Welch.