Submissions:2016/Contribution as Coursework: What role do students play on Wikipedia?

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Contribution as Coursework: What role do students play on Wikipedia?
Education and Academic Engagement
Academic Peer Review option
Type of submission
Kevin Schiroo and Aaron Halfaker
E-mail address and
Another_Article and EpochFail
Grouplens - University of Minnesota, Wiki Education Foundation, and Wikimedia Foundation
Student contributions over time
For the past two years the Wiki Education Foundation has brought college students onto Wikipedia to contribute as part of their coursework. More than ten thousand student have participated in their program. What impact have these student editors had on Wikipedia’s content? In this talk we will discuss the challenges of evaluating student productivity and contribution patterns on Wikipedia. We find that student contributions differ significantly from those of general editors both in their subject matter and their temporal distribution. This poses unique challenges for evaluation of their work and comparison to the work of other editors. In order to accommodate for these differences we developed methods for defining content areas using community based signals such as WikiProject membership. Additionally we used machine learning algorithms utilizing both aspects of the article’s content and its supporting references to identify abstract subjects such as academic or non-academic articles. We show that students are significantly more likely to contribute to science and women’s studies, both areas of critical importance for Wikipedia. We also find that students contribute disproportionately to academic articles, with large amounts of student effort directed towards developing academic articles that were either small or did not exist before the student created them.Since student work is distinctly seasonal, we focus on the time windows corresponding to the end of the term -- when student are generally finishing their assignments. While students contribute 1% of new content overall they contribute decidedly more in these focus areas. During this productive time of the term these students were producing 6% of all science content added and sustaining these contribution rates for more than a month. In a similar time period they produced 4.4% of women’s studies content. The strongest contribution area observed was in the development of early academic content. Here students were producing 10% of content added over the course of 30 days. These results have important implications for the value of education program support for open knowledge projects like Wikipedia.

Length of presentation
20 min
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