Using wikis to support learning in post-secondary economics
Gretchen Wentzell Lowerison, Concordia University , Canada
Concordia University . Awarded
Wikis are part of what is known as Web 2.0, or the read-write web, describing technology that have the potential to provide learners with tools that promote knowledge building through collaboration, social negotiation, and the reviewing and revising of ideas. When building a wiki, learners engage in a process of forethought, performance, and reflection, requiring that they be cognitively active with the learning material and carefully evaluate the accuracy of their understanding.
This study examined the effects of contributing to a wiki combined with varying levels of pedagogical support using a 2 x 2 factorial design: Wiki (no-wiki/wiki) x Pedagogical Support (low/high). The sample consisted of 98 students in 4 sections of an introductory macroeconomics course at a large urban technical college in western Canada. While there is still much to understand regarding the impact of using wikis to support and foster meaningful learning the results of this study produced several important findings and practical implications. The results found that while there was no significant difference between wiki-users and the control group for achievement and overall perceived course effectiveness, there were advantages ascribed to the wiki groups. With respect to motivation, the results found that wiki-users coupled with higher levels of pedagogical support rated intrinsic goal orientation, task value, and self-efficacy significantly higher than the control group. When comparing the two wiki conditions it was found that learners in the wiki high pedagogical support condition rated task value significantly higher than those in the wiki low pedagogical support condition though with small effect sizes. Finally, preliminary descriptive data yielded profound differences between the two wiki groups with regard to their primary intention: collaboration. High levels of support appeared to stifle dialogue. Differences in how learners approached the task of building the wiki under different levels of pedagogical support were observed suggesting that even in a flexible, learner controlled environment, the instructor's suggested structure will have a large impact on how the tool is used. Implications for practice and future research are discussed.
Wentzell Lowerison, G. Using wikis to support learning in post-secondary economics. Ph.D. thesis, Concordia University.
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