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Random Thoughts on Instructional Design

Seamless Integration of Wikis into the Learning Environment: Part 11 of 12

Assessing Wikis

Assessing collaborative work is historically difficult to assess, since it is impossible to know which student contributed what material. It is possible to break down the group assignment into parts, of course, but that makes for a process that is not truly collaborative. Wikis help solve this problem by making iterative development of the document visible to instructors. While this might make take more time, the instructor can review the history of each page to determine both individual contributions and to supervise the writing and revision process. (University of Minnesota Digital Media Center)

Moreover, wikis also provide a way for students to document the writing process and make this visible to instructors. Outlines, timelines, task lists, and group deliberations can all be kept parallel to the content pages of the wiki. This makes it possible for instructors to assess the process of writing as well as the product.

Wikis are most suited to collaborative authoring situations and so the most common wiki marking scenario will be marking an assignment authored by a group of students. In this case wiki functionality offers a detailed insight into the authoring process through the page history from which the contribution of individual students can be gauged.

The assessment process may also include rounds of peer- and self-assessment that require students to reflect on both the products and the process of their collaborative work.

Setting Grading Criteria

Some instructors may choose to grade wiki assignments on participation only, while others may want a more detailed process: setting criteria, creating rubrics, and assessing each student's work and participation.

Grading criteria for assessing a group wiki should be similar to assessing any other assignment (rubrics would be excellent tools). However the ability to review in detail individual contributions means that more considered individual assessments can be conducted. Individual grades should take into account the number of contributions made by an individual and the quality or value of each of these contributions. We recommend that marks should be awarded not only for demonstrating good research and/or academic writing skills but also for an individuals support of their peers in encouraging and developing their contributions and for positive participation in any discussions around the development of the content.

Issues to be aware of in allocating individual grades for a group wiki:

  • Two or more participants' contributions may be added to the wiki by an individual who may have greater confidence with the wiki editing process. To avoid others getting credit, individuals should be encouraged to make their own edits and to collaborate through the wiki itself (e.g. using the discussion pages) rather than outside of it.
  • Initial contributors may steal the thunder of later contributors and so will seem to have contributed the most to the assignment.
  • It is easy to author a large number of page versions while contributing very little to the content itself, so the number of edits per individual is not as important as the nature of those edits.
  • Check to assure that edits have not occurred after the assignment submission date through the information available in the page history tool.

Managing Wiki Assessments

  • Use the history to changes and base grades on participation – Clicking on the history tab for a wiki page reveals a list of the previous versions of the page content with details of when the changes were made, who made the changes and any summary information provided by the contributor at the time of the edit.To see details of the changes made between specific versions of the page, select the two versions for comparison (usually consecutive versions).
  • Provide opportunities for self/group assessment – grade or portion of the grade should be based on student reports of their contributions and self-reports of what they have learned.

Tip – When a page has undergone a significant number of edits the process of reviewing all the changes made by individual contributors will be very time consuming. Making notes on contributions by individuals during the monitoring of the authoring process will help avoid a large amount of work when it comes to the final assessment of the wiki. 

Next Week – the final segment: Teaching Samples and Resources

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This entry was posted on May 12, 2008 by in Blackboard 8, Instructional Technology and tagged , , .

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