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

June 3, 2020

June 3, 2020

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.


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