A wiki is a shared online collaborative writing space to which multiple authors can contribute. One of the best known examples is Wikipedia.
Wikis allow students to collaboratively explore and write about different perspectives on a topic and may be used as part of group work or collaborative projects. Wikis can be published as an online artefact or “product” which can be shared and used after the assessment. They can also be used as part of a peer review process or as a resource to inform future work.
Typically used to….
- assess students’ knowledge and depth of understanding.
- assess students’ independent research skills, including the ability to source and evaluate information.
- assess students’ presentation and/or multimedia skills.
- facilitate collaborative content development and/or support group projects.
- facilitate peer review processes.
- develop student’s digital capabilities including digital communication and participation (JISC 2021).
Key considerations when using wikis for assessment
Wikis can be particularly interesting as a way to consolidate and showcase student learning. Wikis can be used summatively or formatively and give students a shared online space when they can share and develop their own knowledge while developing digital capabilities such as digital communication and participation.
Developing a collaborative wiki is also an authentic task whereby students create an artefact that can be showcased after the assessment. Wikis can also present some challenges for assessors and students alike. When using wikis as part of your assessment strategy, keep the following points in mind:
- What is the purpose of the wiki? Is it the most appropriate way to assess student learning outcomes in this instance?
- Are you intending to use the wiki for formative or summative assessment purposes, or both?
- What criteria will you use to assess students’ contributions to the wiki? For example, will you use quantitative criteria (e.g. number of contributions) or qualitative criteria, or both? Remember that wikis are generally collaborative writing spaces with multiple authors. Consider how you will assess students individually within a collaborative space.
- Have you provided students with a rubric? Does the rubric align with the relevant learning outcomes?
- Will you set requirements regarding where students host their wiki? For example, in the institutional VLE or a third party platform? Will you ask students to contribute to an existing publicly available wiki (e.g. Wikipedia).
- Remember that your students may not set up or contributed to a wiki before. Check what institutional supports and guides are provided for this and share with your students in advance. Make sure these supports cover
- technical tasks (e.g. how to access and post to the wiki)
- academic tasks (e.g. how to write critically, peer review etc.)
- netiquette guidelines (e.g. how to write collaboratively, etiquette for rewriting/commenting on a peer’s contribution).
- Will the wiki be private (where only the student authors and lecturer/examiner can view it) or will it be available for public viewing?
- Encourage your students to create a timeline for writing, posting and rewriting entries.
- How will you ensure academic integrity in wiki contributions? For example, you might consider asking students to submit reflections which evidence their learning journey and thought ownership while developing the wiki.
External tools (unsupported by Trinity):
Assessing with wikis: this resource from the University of New South Wales provides a comprehensive overview of how to use wikis for assessment purposes.
This chapter from O’Donnell (2015) explores how wikis can support laboratory-based assessment in Science education. Used as an alternative to lab reports, the author argues that wikis provide an effective method of assessing individual contributions within a collaborative learning process.
This journal paper from Eddy and Lawrence (2013) presents a four-stage conceptual framework for authentic assessment and argues that wikis, as user-friendly web spaces that support easy web authoring for individuals or for collaborative groups, provide a platform for both student learning and authentic assessment.
This article from McAlpine (2009) examine the potential of wikis for assessing learner achievement, particularly in collaborative learning scenarios.
This hub from the University of Connecticut provides a wealth of resources on how to integrate collaborative writing projects into the curriculum. Although not specifically focused on wikis, the resources here will be useful to anyone using wikis as part of collaborative learning and assessment processes.