Evaluating the use of a wiki for collaborative learning




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Evaluating the use of a wiki for collaborative learning
Feng Su a and Chris Beaumont b
a Faculty of Education, Liverpool Hope University, Liverpool, UK; b Business School, Edge Hill University, Ormskirk, UK

SUMMARY
A wiki is able to provide a learning environment which is closely aligned with the social-constructivist approach and is more natural than many tools where open collaboration and exchange of ideas is important. This case study analyses and evaluates essential aspects for successful deployment of a wiki in higher education using Salmon’s five-stage e-learning framework. Indicators of the learning benefits were determined by qualitative analysis of students’ wiki contributions. Students’ perceptions were captured through interviews and questionnaires at the start and end of the project, thereby providing indicators of their motivation towards the method of learning. Our results suggest that a wiki can promote effective collaborative learning and confidence in formative self and peer assessment by facilitating rapid feedback, vicarious learning through observing others’ contributions and easy navigation and tracking facilities. Student- authorship was also encouraged. Issues identified included providing easy access to the wiki, lack of personalization, possible vandalism and plagiarism. Also, students with learning difficulties might require extra help and take longer to familiarize themselves with this new e-learning environment.
INTRODUCTION

A wiki is a web site whose content can be edited by visitors to the site, allowing users to easily create and edit pages collaboratively and this technology has the potential to complement, enhance, and has enabled a new form of online collaboration. (Parker and Chao, 2007)

The simplicity, flexibility and openness of this technology provides higher education with new opportunities for developing online interaction in a way which has not been possible before. Moreover wikis can help provide an efficient, flexible, user-friendly and cost-effective interface for collaboration, knowledge creation and student interaction (Schwartz, et al., 2004). Wikis provide users with freedom of authoring and in-situ editing. In comparison with collaboration tools such as blogs and VLE forums, wikis allow the development of content-specific web sites while other tools tend to be chronologically structured contributions.

The social constructivist approach


In our view, wikis represent a technology which can potentially provide an environment that embodies social-constructivist principles (Vygotsky, 1978) since groups of learners can create, revise and insert comments in a single article in a simple manner where the result is immediately obvious (and not hidden in a thread of a forum or blog). Thus learners are actively involved in their own co-construction of knowledge (Boulos, Maramba, & Wheeler, 2006). From a teaching perspective there are associated benefits: tutors can also insert feedback at the point required, so the wiki facilitates timely and specific in-task guidance (Beaumont, O’Doherty and Shannon, 2008) which promotes learning. Importantly, the wiki also tracks all individual contributions and changes.
In essence, wikis help create a dynamic, collaborative learning environment where learning happens through open discussion and exchange of ideas and opinions, collaborative construction and sharing of knowledge, and active participation. This is also exactly the environment needed to promote peer and self-assessment, which Boud and Falchikov (2007) consider one of the keys to self-regulated learning and sustainable assessment.
Indeed, wikis have been used in higher education in variety of ways (Parker & Chao,2007), for example, online collaborative writing (Baetens et al., 2006), a laboratory notebook (e.g. UsefulChem Project 2008), as a knowledge repository (Coutinho and Bottentuit, 2007), in a project wiki (Lamb, 2004 ; Xu, 2007), as a course evaluation tool (CAW, 2008), as a presentation tool (O’Neill, 2005) and as a distance learning tool (Byron, 2005). Research and evidence suggest that a wiki is an excellent tool for online collaboration in an educational context (Vassell et al., 2008). However, although the democratization of knowledge in a wiki affords many opportunities, concerns have been expressed regarding possibilities of plagiarism and vandalism (deliberate page defacement) (Raitman et al., 2005 a, b).
Whilst it is clear that there is widespread interest in the potential of wikis, we would argue that there needs to be further research into student’s own views of adopting this open peer-review style of working, and a need to explore the effectiveness of wikis in promoting a social constructivist learning approach. Given the nature of a wiki, where student contributions are open to all students and staff, this is a particularly important aspect, both from a pedagogical and an affective perspective.
This article reports on an empirical research study to explore these issues in the context of a final-year dissertation module, the Research and Development (R&D) project, in a BSc Information Technology degree, undertaken by 47 students at Liverpool Hope University. In this module, students constructed literature reviews in the wiki, with their articles reviewed by their peers and tutors. This research project evaluated the quantity and quality of contributions as indicators of effectiveness and explored students’ perceptions of the experience.
The aims of this research were to (a) identify the benefits and issues of using a wiki facility as perceived by students, (b) explore the extent to which a wiki has facilitated students’ online learning, and (c) tentatively identify principles of good practice
On the R&D wiki, students were required to keep a record of their final-year project (project log); write the project terms of reference; write an online wiki article (literature review); and provide constructive critical comments on other students’ work.
METHOD

This project used MediaWiki version 1.9.3 on an Apache web server with PHP 5.0 MySQL 4.0. MediaWiki was selected as it provided extensive functionality for user authentication, tracking contributions and referencing. The installation onto a university hosted virtual server was straightforward.


Research data were collected from three sources: two online questionnaires (Appendix 1) and interviews with the randomly selected participants provided students’ perceptions. Analysis of students’ contributions to the R&D wiki by the researchers provided more objective indicators of their engagement and learning.
Whilst there are many models and frameworks for e-learning (Mayes and de Freitas 2004) we wanted to analyze data using a model that was aligned with social constructivism, and which related to a learner’s experience, particularly when being introduced to new learning approaches. Salmon’s (2006) five-stage model of e-learning provided a framework which met these requirements, enabling us to consider the students’ experiences from access through to knowledge construction and development. The five stages are identified as access and motivation (stage 1), online socialization (stage 2), information exchange (stage 3), knowledge construction (stage 4) and knowledge development (stage 5). It therefore represents a progressive development of teaching and learning online with a focus on effective design and implementation of e-learning tools. Questionnaires and interviews were structured around these five stages. Salmon’s model also includes tutor activities at each stage, however, this aspect of her model was not used explicitly and module tutors followed their own individual approaches to online tutoring.
The first questionnaire was designed to survey students’ initial impressions and experiences of the wiki mainly focusing on the questions of access, ease of locating information, the frequency of visiting the wiki and motivation to participate. The first questionnaire was administered online early in November 2007 to a population of 47 students, who were registered on the R&D wiki. Thirty-six valid responses were received.
The second questionnaire was designed to explore students’ progression from simple interaction with content on the wiki site towards active collaboration with fellow students and self-regulated learning. This questionnaire was conducted online in the last two weeks of February 2008 when students’ wiki articles were completed. Thirty-three valid responses were received.
In order to explore students’ perceptions in more depth, two sets of semi-structured interviews were conducted alongside the questionnaires. Twelve students gave consent on the first questionnaire to be interviewed and six of these were randomly selected and interviewed after completing the first and the second online questionnaire. Interview questions were based on their responses to the questions/statements in the each set of questionnaires. The interviews were recorded and transcribed and used to cross-reference with observations of their contribution to the R&D wiki.
RESULTS

The data were analysed broadly by applying Salmon’s (2006) five-stage e-learning model.



Access and motivation (stage 1)

First impressions are important and less than half of the students considered the R&D wiki easy to access. Just 47% of the students found it easy to use while over 50% of the students tended to express neutral or negative reactions.


On further exploration, during interviews, students explained that access to the wiki could have been improved if a single user-friendly URL address had been used. Students had to log in to the University’s VLE (Moodle) to find the wiki links. Furthermore, the links for the wiki were shown as IP addresses and there were different IP addresses for on-campus access and for off-campus access.
However, once students accessed the wiki, the issue on easy navigation scored well with about 64% of the students who responded positively (Figure 1).

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Two contextual factors might have contributed to this result: one is that they were final-year IT students who had been studying and using IT for the last two years, and they tended to learn a new technology quickly; another one is that the module leader provided them with very detailed instructions and guidance at the start of the module. Over 80% of the students surveyed thought that the tutor provided clear and easy-to-follow instructions on using the wiki and the same percentage of the students consulted the wiki help page. The wiki access statistics revealed that the help page was in the top three most viewed pages on the R&D wiki (R&D wiki 2008a).
Despite the generally positive response, two particular navigation issues were highlighted in the interviews:
Sometimes it’s a bit confusing … I found it quite difficult to leave people a message …
It’s too many pages … I didn’t know how I get to the one place.
The wiki affords new ways of working, and it is perhaps not surprising that a substantial proportion of students initially expressed some reluctance to participate. Furthermore, over half of the students surveyed regarded possible plagiarism and vandalism as a major concern:
…I was impressed by the way that you could refer back to the history article, retrieve your work, but I think specially you don’t seem fair to people thinking somebody is going to go on and ruin my work … change my work. It’s the biggest concern.
I felt a little bit reluctant to use … you put your ideas up there, and everybody can read them … it’s so easy to copy …

One student with dyslexia raised an important issue:


… People with learning disabilities … they might feel not confident to put their work up … people with disabilities like dyslexia … they are prone to make spell mistakes; they may feel a bit intimidated by putting their work up on the wiki before somebody has checked it …
In this initial 3-week period, all the students surveyed had visited the wiki after their registration with over 35% visiting five times or more (Figure 2).
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Initial engagement looked promising since 90% of the students had created their own wiki page in this period. It was also pleasing to see that there were signs of discussion between the users with 50% of students having engaged in discussion with tutors. About 78% of the students wrote on their own spaces in the wiki, and 39% posted comments on other students’ pages at least once in a week. One interviewee explained how she had benefited:
somebody pointed out a problem I might have with doing the survey which is getting the right data and right amount of people … we talked about it on the wiki … and decided what is the best way to do it …
According to Salmon’s model, we would expect interactions such as the above to take place later in the e-learning process. This earlier sign of contributing to others’ pages has shown that some students had made rapid progress and felt confident with the new learning medium.
Online socialization (stage 2)

At the stage of the learning process students are expected to have started to share ideas and stories with each other after initial contact. Indicators used to identify this stage were initial interaction with tutors and other students. While some students had progressed rapidly, only 39% displayed evidence of reaching this stage within a month.


In order to establish a responsible online learning community and promote respect and trust among students, the module leader created a set of wiki-community standards (R&D wiki 2008b), including behaviour, academic style and disciplinary measures. These were regarded as an essential component for ensuring a safe community space (86% viewed these community standards as fair and appropriate).
To promote engagement in a confident community of practice and help move students towards the knowledge construction stage, they were required to participate in a number of quality-assurance tasks in the form of providing and receiving comments from fellow students. A number of factors were identified by students that made them feel comfortable to post comments on others’ wiki pages – these were: being familiar with the wiki technology, being able to help others and being able to learn from others’ mistakes.
Information exchange and knowledge construction (stages 3 and 4)

Receiving and giving formative guidance and feedback and participating in discussion were regarded as the most prominent features in terms of interaction and collaboration in this project. As indicated above, there was evidence that a substantial proportion of students were engaging in this activity. Analysis of the wiki contributions showed that approximately 40% of students were posting comments that showed indications of criticality, for example in the use of evidence, argument and structure.


Optional forums were also set up to facilitate discussion on relevant project topics (web development, networks, database, graphics and modelling, social surveys, virtual worlds, multimedia, language processing and assessment criteria). However, most postings to these forums were about applying for membership to join. With the exceptions of social surveys and virtual-world forums, the level of interaction on other forums was minimal as students concentrated on their own wiki page and discussion page.
The responses to the second questionnaire (after three months use) showed that 56% of the students felt comfortable writing comments on others’ pages (Figure 3) and approximately 53% of the students were no longer concerned that others might dislike their comments. This compares with a figure of 39% of the students who commented on others’ wiki pages in the first three weeks and shows positive progress in students’ confidence in making comments on others’ work.

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The discussion/user-talk page associated with each wiki page was a major pedagogical feature, being used to exchange ideas among students and tutors. Analysis showed that contributions to these pages by tutors and students concerned the following: pointing out language errors, appropriate referencing style and using correct the wiki page template, together with higher-order critical and specific comments/feedback. Some 45% of students provided constructive comments on other students’ work. There was a lively interaction on some students’ wiki pages although a small minority (4%) of students failed to take part in discussions on their own wiki pages or other peoples’ pages.
Towards the end of the project, 97% of the students who responded to the second questionnaire agreed that they had received constructive comments from tutors, and around 61% of the students regarded comments from other students as beneficial. All of the students interviewed were positive about the feedback received from tutors via the wiki. Students stated that they found tutors’ comments particularly useful concerning structure, flow of arguments, how well the article had addressed the question and how to improve it. For example:
I benefited from one of the comments left by my supervisor in terms of flow of discussions…I made some adjustment … moved around between paragraphs … it is a lot better now …
My supervisor’s comments on my wiki article helped me better address the question.
… I was writing an article … [the tutor] was on the wiki at the same time; he put a link upon my wiki page through to a site that would help me. That’s one aspect I thought was really good.

One of the conditions identified by Gibbs and Simpson (2004) for effective feedback is timeliness. Compared with the traditional way of exchanging feedback, several students interviewed indicated that the wiki made giving and receiving feedback a lot easier and quicker than conventional methods. One of the students explained it as follows:


Via the wiki you don’t have to make an appointment to see the tutor for advice … simply post a message on the wiki, the tutor will get back to you shortly …

One student out of the 12 students interviewed had never received comments from other students but the majority of students expressed positive views on peer feedback, for instance:


…little things like spelling, grammatical errors … they can help correct spelling mistakes … and also if I think something might flow when I write it in paragraphs, but someone else thinks it doesn’t quite work … I could change it in that way …

A particular aim of the wiki was to encourage self and peer-assessment. A detailed analysis of the students’ contributions showed that students made comments on a range of aspects (Table 1), categorized by increasing level of criticality.


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More high-level critical comments were posted than anything else; 43% students posted comments in this category. This level of engagement was much greater than achieved in previous attempts by one of the authors to engage the same students in formative (face-to-face) peer feedback on assignment drafts. The following illustrates the type of critical comments some students were providing on others’ work by the end of the project:
Your introduction is very specific and it's very clear about what the article is going to discuss. The readability is excellent and you've sectioned it into headings very well. In the section where you've discussed the surveys that have been conducted, The National Cyber Security Alliance and Web Sense, do you know any background info about these companies? Are they trusted surveyors in this field? You could then include for example … Alternatively, you could say that … This will just show some critical analysis of the information that you have acquired.
Such a comment suggests to the authors that students were able to model their contributions on those given by tutors and students are becoming confident enough to provide detailed critical comments.
At the start of the project 85% students and staff raised concerns about possible vandalism and plagiarism. By the second questionnaire this had fallen to 55%. No vandalism occurred during the project. However, two students interviewed had experienced their work being copied by fellow students, as they expressed:
One classmate copied the structure of my work and used it as his … the tutor said that was plagiarism …
Someone completely copied word for word one of my wiki pages, and presented on their pages … so obviously … I was shocked …
The first example represents a fairly sophisticated view, since it relates to the structure of the work, not merely the copying of a section of text.
The wiki provided powerful logging and change tracking facilities which were essential to reassure students that any plagiarism (or vandalism) reported could easily be tracked and dealt with. For example, tutors could track recent changes to all wiki pages, the revision history (all changes made to one page), the contributions of one specific user and newly created pages. If a possible case of plagiarism was reported, tutors could use the wiki history page to find out who wrote the contents first and when.
Learning development (stage 5)

According to Salmon, students at this stage are developing towards being mature and experienced users and are expected to become critical and confident learners who take responsibility for their own learning. One of the indicators of being a confident learner is to give and accept criticism. While 39% of the students surveyed in the first questionnaire indicated that they were confident to give feedback to other students, 64% of respondents to the second questionnaire felt confident in giving and receiving feedback to/from other students (Figure 4).


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About 59% of the students perceived that the R&D wiki helped to develop their initiative in learning independently. The students that were interviewed expressed the view that they learnt from the mistakes that other students made, and from the feedback provided by both tutors and students on their own work and others’ work. They reflected on their previous learning by revisiting discussion pages regularly, and monitored weekly activities and their project timelines/log and made sure they were on track. The following are typical comments from the second interviews:
… we are now pretty much on our own, flying solo, hardly see each other … it is a good way to keeping in touch and sharing ideas via the wiki.
I have been enjoying using the wiki. I’ve found that the project wiki page has been brilliant and it helps me keep tracking my progress on the project. What a learning experience!

DISCUSSION

This research constituted a small scale project, and the learning context is critical to the outcomes, consequently we do not make great claims about the generality of our findings. However, the results from this case study show internal consistency and the key points are not discipline-specific, thus we consider that they provide valuable insight for the wider academic community and we discuss them in this section.


This project explored students’ perceptions of their experiences of using a wiki, and analyzed the quality of the contributions as an indicator of their progress towards becoming confident, self-directed learners that are able to provide and receive appropriate criticism. Whilst students were progressing at different rates and tutors were using different tutorial strategies and it was not possible to reliably identify all of Salmon’s five stages, the model was still considered useful for helping to analyze the progress of students towards becoming self-regulated critical learners, and we were able to identify indicators of progression. Thus our research helped extend the usefulness of the model from its original context in an asynchronous forum to the richer learning environment of a wiki.
Today’s students are frequent users of digital technology. However, despite their extensive experience of IT, VLE and social networking, these BSc Information Technology students were generally apprehensive about using the wiki. The intrinsic features of a wiki (public domain and open editing) were the basis of most concerns - particularly a fear of exposing draft ‘imperfect’ work - some wanted tutors to check their work before putting it on the wiki. The extensive concern about plagiarism and vandalism really helped students to maintain their academic integrity; students were fiercely defensive of their work - even to the structure of their article. Thus, it is clear that this ownership promotes responsibility, authorial identity and the values of giving credit for intellectual work, which is a very positive development. The history-tracking feature of the wiki proved to be indispensible by enabling tutors to identify any plagiarism and by providing a sense of security to students.
As with any technology, consideration needs to be taken in facilitating ease of access, good navigation, help facilities, clear expectations and induction to the system. These considerations were reinforced by students’ feedback in this study. Some students requested additional personalization in wiki pages and suggested incorporation of a chat room, and a video player. The students also stated that they appreciated the templates provided by tutors for various documents such as project plans, logs and bibliography. Templates could make students’ life slightly easier by helping them to concentrate on the contents of their wiki pages instead of their presentation.

To what extent has the wiki promoted students’ online learning?


Initially we were excited about the ease with which wiki contributors could provide feedback, make changes to documents and co-construct knowledge in a simple way, which made other e-learning technology look very clumsy. Recent work (Beaumont, O’Doherty and Shannon, 2008) suggests that guidance provided while students are working on a task is both effective for learning, highly valued by students, and is more meaningful than feedback after an assessment. The research showed that detailed and timely guidance, together with the provision of exemplars, drafts and model answers were seen as very useful. In this project we found evidence of all of these aspects of learning support: students were working on a public draft of their literature review over a two-month period and reported that they benefitted from fast feedback from tutors and students, which was very focused and embedded in the wiki page or related discussion page.
The students’ opinion on giving feedback to others’ work changed with their experience of using a wiki. At the beginning, the students were reluctant to make comments on others’ wiki pages; some were afraid of providing others with critical feedback or of others being annoyed by comments. However, towards the later stages of the project, 87% of the students had made comments on others’ pages and the proportion who expressed confidence in giving and receiving criticism had improved by 64%. We conclude that the wiki effectively facilitated the development of students as critical learners and their ability to give and receive criticism in an environment where every posting is public. We were particularly pleased with the engagement that IT students were having with the process of writing, not an area normally associated with high levels of confidence (Hetherington et al., 2007).
A particularly interesting aspect that emerged was the development of some students’ ability to provide feedback. When analyzing comments provided by students, it became clear that some were modeling their feedback on that given by tutors. There were many wiki articles (literature reviews) available containing feedback and a number of students were using these as exemplars and demonstrating vicarious learning. For instance, some students mentioned in the interview that they learned from others’ mistakes such as organizing the structure of their writing and constructing arguments, to avoid mistakes that others had made. Students who struggled during their writing could easily obtain ideas or inspiration from others’ wiki pages. This sounds like an invitation to plagiarism, but the intrinsic openness and ease of use of the wiki, together with tracking tools virtually eliminated this issue since students monitored each other and discovered any infringements very quickly. The coexistence of students’ and tutors’ comments opens up an interesting area for further research: to what extent does this play an important part in developing students’ confidence and ability at peer and self assessment?
In this research, an issue was raised concerning the difficulties that dyslexic students might encounter while using the wiki. One student interviewed expressed her unwillingness to show her work-in-progress at the outset due to the fact that she was prone to making spelling or grammar mistakes which others do not normally make. There is a considerable difference between submitting a piece of work to one tutor and making it available publicly on a wiki. Consequently, tutors must consider ways to ensure students with special needs are not disadvantaged by this technology. It is also important to consider how the use of wikis may change the support such students need.
It is also important to point out that the public nature of the wiki also makes tutor’s guidance and feedback comments clear for all to see and it enables easy comparisons between the feedback provided by different tutors (and their timeliness). This may have the effect of promoting higher standards among tutors, but it became clear to us that tutors need to believe in the value of the wiki and have the appropriate skills in order to make this form of tuition successful.
We conclude that the unique features of a wiki make it a very effective tool for supporting social-constructivist models of pedagogy. This project has provided evidence that the in-situ revision facilities, together with change-tracking mechanisms, are features of wiki technology that promote effective collaboration, feedback and the development of students’ ability to perform critical evaluation. Initial concerns over plagiarism and vandalism were unfounded and it appears that the openness of wikis may even reduce this risk. Furthermore, as reported in our results, analysis of contributions showed that about 40% of the students were demonstrating criticality by providing appropriate comments and also acting on those they receive, which we judge to be indicators of social construction of knowledge. Our results therefore suggest that a wiki can play an important role in learning environments for the 21st Century.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
The research reported here was supported by the Write Now Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning funded by HEFCE at London Metropolitan University, Liverpool Hope University and Aston University (www.writenow.ac.uk). The authors also would like to thank the two anonymous referees who reported on the submitted draft of the article.
NOTES ON CONTRIBUTORS
Feng Su is Research Fellow at Liverpool Hope University. His primary research interest is in educational technologies, cross-cultural learning contexts and the development of the learner within higher education settings. His forthcoming books include Chinese Learning Journeys: Chasing the Dream (Trentham, 2011) and The Reorientation of Higher Education: Compliance and Defiance (edited with Adamson and Nixon) (CERC and Springer, 2012). Corresponding author’s address: Faculty of Education, Liverpool Hope University, Hope Park, Liverpool, UK, L16 9JD. Email: suf@hope.ac.uk
Chris Beaumont is Associate Director of Business School at Edge Hill University and teaches in the area of Computer Networks and Security. He has been involved in developing and researching e-learning for over 10 years. His current research interests are primarily in the area of problem-based learning and use of intelligent agents for assessment guidance and feedback. Correspondence address: Business School, Edge Hill University, Ormskirk, UK, L39 4QP
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APPENDIX 1: TWO ONLINE QUESTIONNAIRES


Questionnaire one (it was distributed at the beginning of the research project)
Prior experience

Please answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ as your answer.




  1. I have experience of using a social network (e.g. Facebook and Myspace)

  2. I have previous experience of using a VLE (e.g. Learnwise and Moodle)

  3. I have previous experience of accessing a wiki (e.g. Wikipedia)

  4. I have experience of contributing to a wiki page (other than R&D wiki)

Please indicate how true each statement is for you by making a choice between ‘strongly agree’, ‘agree’, ‘not sure’, ‘disagree’ or ‘strongly disagree’.




  1. I regularly use an online communication tool (e.g. email, chat room and online forums)

  2. I enjoy using online tools either my personal pleasure or for my study


Ease of access

Please indicate how true each statement is for you by making a choice between ‘strongly agree’, ‘agree’, ‘not sure’, ‘disagree’ or ‘strongly disagree’.




  1. I have had technical problems connecting to the R&D wiki

  2. I find the instructions on how to use the R&D wiki is easy to follow

  3. I make use of the wiki help pages

  4. I find it’s easy to use the R&D wiki

  5. I find the R&D wiki easy to navigate


Motivation and enjoyment

Please indicate how true each statement is for you by making a choice between ‘strongly agree’, ‘agree’, ‘not sure’, ‘disagree’ or ‘strongly disagree’.




  1. I feel reluctant to use the wiki

  2. I think it’s a good idea to write part of my final year project on the R&D wiki

  3. I clearly understand the purpose of using the R&D wiki

  4. I know what tasks I need to do complete at each stage on the wiki for the R&D module

  5. I find each task on the wiki is easy to complete

  6. I have received useful feedback/comments on my contribution to the wiki from tutors

  7. I have received useful feedback/comments on my contribution to the wiki from other students

  8. I only use the wiki because it is compulsory for the R&D module

  9. I enjoy using the wiki

  10. I do not like the fact that other people can see my work before it is finished

Please indicate how true each statement is for you by making a choice between ‘never’, ‘1-5 times’, ‘5-10 times’, ‘10 times’ or ‘more’.




  1. How often do you visit the R&D wiki in a week

  2. How often do you write on your own pages in the R&D wiki in a week

  3. How often do you write the comments on other students’ wiki pages in a week

  4. How many student pages have you looked at on the wiki

Please indicate how true each statement is for you by making a choice between ‘all of them’, ‘some of them’ and ‘none of them’.




  1. I have read the pages on wiki standards and conventions

Please indicate how true each statement is for you by making a choice between ‘too lax’, ‘just about right’ and ‘too harsh’.




  1. I think the rules about what you can and cannot do on the wiki are fair


Questionnaire two (it was distributed towards the end of the research project)
Online socialization

Please indicate how true each statement is for you by making a choice between ‘strongly agree’, ‘agree’, ‘not sure’, ‘disagree’ or ‘strongly disagree’.




  1. I feel comfortable to write comments on other students’ pages

  2. I am worried that other students might dislike my comments on their work

  3. I feel encouraged to interact with other learners on the R&D wiki

  4. I feel that I am able to get to know my fellow students through the R&D wiki


Interaction & collaboration

Please indicate how true each statement is for you by making a choice between ‘strongly agree’, ‘agree’, ‘not sure’, ‘disagree’ or ‘strongly disagree’.




  1. I feel that there is too much course information on the R&D wiki

  2. I often participate in the discussion on the R&D wiki

  3. I have received useful comments from tutors

  4. Other students’ comments on my wiki pages have helped me improve my work

  5. My comments on other students’ work have been appreciated and acknowledged

  6. I find that it is more efficient to interact with each other via the wiki than via face to face

  7. I still have concerns over possible vandalism and plagiarism of my work on the wiki

  8. I find that I have learnt more on my research project from fellow students via the wiki than via face to face collaboration

  9. I am now confident in giving and receiving feedback to/from other students


Learning development

  1. What features and functionalities of the R&D wiki have helped enhance your learning experience? How?

  2. What additional features and functionalities would you like to see incorporated in the R&D wiki to enhance your learning experience?

  3. In your experience, what are the advantages of the R&D wiki as compared to the Moodle VLE for collaborative online learning?

  4. In your experience, what are the disadvantages of the R&D wiki as compared to the Moodle VLE for collaborative online learning?

  5. Overall, I find that the R&D wiki has helped promote my initiative for learning independently (please indicate how true this statement is for you by making a choice between ‘strongly agree’, ‘agree’, ‘not sure’, ‘disagree’ or ‘strongly disagree’)

  6. Would you like to use a wiki again in other modules? (‘yes’ or ‘no’)


Figure 1. Students’ response to the ease of the R&D wiki navigation

Figure 2. Frequency of students’ visits to the wiki in a week

Figure 3. Feeling comfortable to give comments on other people’s work

Table 1. Quantity of students’ comments and of the students who made comments




Categories

Numbers of comments

Numbers of comments contributed by students

Comments on spelling, grammar and referencing

36

20


Comments on progress of completing the record of the project

11

8


Comments on structure, organization, argument, evidence and readability of students’ literature review

57



20




Figure 4. Confidence in giving and receiving feedback to/from other students






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