#research: How today’s college students use wikipedia for course-related research

This study investigated how and why college students use Wikipedia within the context of using other resources for course–related research.

In particular, we investigated how Wikipedia fits into information–seeking strategies students employ for fulfilling course–related research assignments.

Overall, we found:

  1. Students’ driving need for background context makes Wikipedia one of the predictable workarounds that many students use, especially during the first stages of their research process.
  2. Course–related research may begin with Wikipedia, but it rarely ends there. In our study, students employed a complex information problem strategy in their research processes, reliant on a mix of information resources that were from scholarly sources and public Internet sites.
  3. In our study, we found the combination of coverage, currency, comprehensibility, and convenience drives Wikipedia use, in a world where credibility is less of a given — or an expectation from students — with each passing day.
  4. Overall, college students use Wikipedia. But, they do so knowing its limitation. They use Wikipedia just as most of us do — because it is a quick way to get started and it has some, but not deep, credibility.

↠ Read study: First Monday.