Assigning Wikipedia editing: Triangulation toward understanding university student engagement


  • Amy Roth Wikimedia Foundation
  • Rochelle Davis Georgetown University
  • Brian Carver UC Berkeley



collaboration, collaborative learning, community, engagement, improving classroom teaching, media literacy, motivation, qualitative analysis, triangulation, Wikipedia,


Professors across the United States participated in the first direct effort by the Wikimedia Foundation, the non-profit that supports Wikipedia, to engage the academic community and integrate Wikipedia into a class assignment. Three project participants, from different areas of study, conducted independent research into university student motivations for a Wikipedia assignment. We triangulate those data in this paper to describe how student motivations differ for a Wikipedia assignment from a traditional research paper assignment. Several themes emerged through the research; many of the dominant themes were linked. The global audience both motivated and intimidated students. Students appreciated the usefulness of contributing to Wikipedia and found satisfaction in making information accessible to the public worldwide. Students engaged with an online community and appreciated feedback and collaboration. Some recognized a degree of possessiveness that they felt toward the article. Both instructors and students observed that student research and writing skills improved. Overall, qualitative data indicated that students are more engaged in a Wikipedia assignment than a traditional research paper assignment.

Author Biographies

Amy Roth, Wikimedia Foundation

Amy believes that creative and correct analysis of data can empower decision-makers, increase efficiency of related systems, and contribute to the general good.

Rochelle Davis, Georgetown University

Assistant Professor School of Foreign Service

Brian Carver, UC Berkeley

Assistant Professor School of Information




How to Cite

Roth, A., Davis, R., & Carver, B. (2013). Assigning Wikipedia editing: Triangulation toward understanding university student engagement. First Monday, 18(6).