Editing for equity: Understanding instructor motivations for integrating cross-disciplinary Wikipedia assignments


  • Jiawei Xing Indiana University of Pennsylvania; Shenyang Normal University
  • Matthew Vetter Indiana University of Pennsylvania




Wikipedia, Wikipedia-based education, Social equity, Higher education, Digital pedagogy, Professional identity


Advances in both research and advocacy have demonstrated how Wikipedia-based education, as a movement, has grown exponentially in the last 10 years. As a result, academics know a lot more about specific learning outcomes that Wikipedia assignments might enable and are more familiar with issues of social equity (e.g., systemic biases related to gender) in the encyclopedia. Despite these advances, little scholarship has focused on instructor motivations for utilizing Wikipedia assignments. This paper reports on a survey of over 100 instructors engaged in Wikipedia-based education practices in order to contribute a cross-disciplinary picture of instructor motivations. Our findings suggest that instructors take up Wikipedia-based assignments for a number of reasons beyond learning objectives: including social influence (being inspired by others), providing students an opportunity to contribute to public knowledge, and motivations related to addressing social equity, among others. Participants who are directly motivated to address issues of social equity rationalize their pedagogy as opportunities for activism or advocacy, professional identity, and critical pedagogy. Finally, this paper provides recommendations to Wikipedia Education stakeholders in regards to the finding that instructors’ professional identities play a significant role in their motivation to address issues of social equity.

Author Biographies

Jiawei Xing, Indiana University of Pennsylvania; Shenyang Normal University

Jiawei Xing is a Ph.D. candidate in Composition and Applied Linguistics at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and an associate professor of English in Shenyang Normal University. His research interest centers on composition studies, with a specialization in writing development mediated by Wikipedia-based instruction, technology, and culture. He has published work in Journal of Social Sciences, Journal of Multimodal Rhetorics, and with the Educational Science Publishing House.

Matthew Vetter, Indiana University of Pennsylvania

Matthew A. Vetter is assistant professor of English and affiliate faculty in the Composition and Applied Linguistics Ph.D. program at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where he teaches graduate courses in rhetoric and composition. His research asks questions related to technology, writing, pedagogy, and digital culture with a specific interest in investigations of the ideological and epistemological functions of digital communities. Vetter's work has appeared in journals such as College English, Composition Studies, Computers and Composition, Pedagogy, and Hybrid Pedagogy, as well as publications sponsored by the Wiki Education Program.




How to Cite

Xing, J., & Vetter, M. (2020). Editing for equity: Understanding instructor motivations for integrating cross-disciplinary Wikipedia assignments. First Monday, 25(6). https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v25i6.10575