Wikis for group work: Encouraging transparency, benchmarking and feedback

Amir Abdekhodaee, Kourosh Dini, Farnaz Modarresi, Anne-Marie Chase, Bella Ross

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


Education delivery models and approaches are undergoing radical change. The traditional knowledge exchange model whereby an educator imparts knowledge to students may not be best placed to develop essential skills for the 21st century (Griffin, McGaw, & Care, 2012) and is being challenged by models that encourage knowledge creation by students. Using a wiki to facilitate group work may provide students opportunities for collaborative learning (Blumenfeld, Marx, Soloway, & Krajcik, 1996), knowledge sharing and construction (Elgort, Smith, & Toland, 2008), and skill development. Wikis allow individual contributions to be traceable thereby increasing individual accountability in group work situations. Wikis can furthermore be monitored continually by a teacher and peers to monitor progress by both groups and individuals. This can benefit feedback practices throughout the course of a project. In this study, we report on our initial findings from a group wiki project in an Engineering Management unit at an Australian university. A wiki was introduced to the existing group report assessment to add transparency to group project management activities and report writing. There were 84 groups with approximately 3-4 students in each. Each group had their own wiki which could be viewed by the entire cohort. Students were required to provide three separate sets of feedback to another group’s wiki during the semester. We report on the findings from student surveys and focus groups. Almost three quarters of students found the wikis helpful for benchmarking their activity against their peers. The wiki enabled transparency provided an opportunity for students to benchmark their performance in various ways, offering a comparison for quality of work and the rate of progress. This comparison also offered students a standard against which they could attempt to improve their performance. Over half of the students stated that peer feedback had improved their work; however, a lot of the feedback given by peers was too brief to be constructive, and provided too late to be useful in guiding their work. Many students described the wiki project as a delegation of tasks and overall did not think that the wiki had impacted on group collaboration. These findings are consistent with earlier literature (Cole, 2009; Elgort et al., 2008; Witney & Smallbone, 2011). This project is in its second iteration and the project leader plans to continue refining the use of wikis in future units. In particular, future iterations aim to improve the quality and timing of feedback as well as increase student collaboration. Audience contributions to how this can be achieved are welcomed.

Cole, M. (2009). Using wiki technology to support student engagement: Lessons from the trenches. Computers & Education, 52(1), 141–146. doi: 10.1016/j.compedu.2008.07.003Elgort, I., Smith, A. G., & Toland, J. (2008). Is wiki an effective platform for group course work? Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 24(2), 195-210. Hadjerrouit, S. (2012, October 19-21). Using wikis to foster collaborative writing: Exploring influencing factors to successful implementation. Paper presented at the IADIS International Conference on Cognition and Exploratory Learning in Digital Age (CELDA 2012), Madrid, Spain.Judd, T., Kennedy, G., & Cropper, S. (2010). Using wikis for collaborative learning: Assessing collaboration through contribution. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 26(3), 341-354. Karasavvidis, I. (2010). Wiki uses in higher education: Exploring barriers to successful implementation. Interactive Learning Environments, 18(3), 219-231. doi: 10.1080/10494820.2010.500514Witney, D., & Smallbone, T. (2011). Wiki work: Can using wikis enhance student collaboration for group assignment tasks? Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 48(1), 101-110. doi: 10.1080/14703297.2010.543765
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 29 Oct 2015
Externally publishedYes
EventThe 12th Annual Conference of the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning - Melbourne Victoria, Melbourne Victoria
Duration: 27 Oct 201530 Oct 2015


ConferenceThe 12th Annual Conference of the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning
CityMelbourne Victoria


  • Educational technology
  • Wikis
  • Feedback
  • Groupwork

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