This educational case study traces the shift in an extra credit assignment in a graduate research course (module) that initially focused on learning and using Twitter to one that embraces learning via contributing to Wikipedia. Higher education in the United States often suffers from grade inflation, in part due to the high costs of tuition and fees born by student consumers and a sense of entitlement resulting from this investment in a university degree. This is present in graduate degree programs, in this case where the required research process and methodology course (an intensive module taught as a seminar) in a management and systems degree program focuses on articulating problems in practice, providing evidence for developing researchable questions, and then conducting thorough literature reviews. The course is challenging for the best of students, few of whom previously had exposure generating research proposals. Refusing to submit to grade inflation, and unable to change the syllabus due to university and state review requirements, a comprehensive extra credit assignment was developed for the students to help augment their grades.
A previous extra credit assignment had been developed for using Twitter to establish one’s professional network and engage in learning about one’s topical areas of research via open communication. While this helped equip students to be critical consumers of information, it maintained the learning within the course structure and did little to empower them to become collaborative producers in how knowledge and information is constructed in the face of an era of Fake News (Burkhardt, 2017).
After attending the 2017 Open Education Resource Conference where several participants discussed how Wikipedia could be used in higher education contexts, the idea to use Wikipedia as a learning opportunity via an extra credit format arose. What was not apparent was how this would work, as all examples shared and later provided through the Wiki Education Foundation presented as Wikipedia integrated directly into university course requirements and not as a self-directed, scaffolded learning opportunity—namely extra-credit—that would implement the learning within the course into an open education opportunity benefiting society beyond our programmatic confines.
This qualitative design employs an explanatory case study methodology where the focus on this contemporary event seeks to explain why the phenomenon worked as it did, given the boundary between the phenomenon and the real-world context is not clearly evident (Yin, 2017) due to certain intrinsic cases that present as unusual systems (Creswell & Poth, 2017). As this educational research explores the practice of teaching and learning, the design will be informed by narrative and teacher self-study (Kitchen, 2009; Vicki K. LaBoskey & Richert, 2015; Vicki Kubler LaBoskey, 2009) along with a “naturalistic study of personal life experiences” (Saldaña & Omasta, 2017, p 159).
This case study explores how learning within a university research course module allowed for a wider benefit than only within the course itself, as students learned how to edit and contribute their knowledge for the benefit of society, all of which reinforce learning through verifiable and reliable evidence. While this practical antidote to fake news has proven successful, it continues to be tweaked, evaluated, and expanded in the same open manner as the extra credit assignment itself. It is hoped that sharing this experience and the tools created will benefit participants and readers through collaboratively contributing to and disseminating knowledge in an open model, one beyond programmatic confines.
Burkhardt, J. M. (2017). Combating fake news in the digital age (Library Technology Reports No. Vol. 53 / No. 8). American Library Association. Retrieved from http://www.alastore.ala.org/detail.aspx?ID=12290
Creswell, J. W., & Poth, C. N. (2017). Qualitative Inquiry and Research Design: Choosing Among Five Approaches. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Kitchen, J. (2009). Passages: Improving Teacher Education Through Narrative Self-Study. In L. Fitzgerald, M. Heston, & D. Tidwell (Eds.), Research Methods for the Self-study of Practice. Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands. Doi: 10.1007/978-1-4020-9514-6
LaBoskey, V. K. (2009). “Name It and Claim It”: The Methodology of Self-Study as Social Justice Teacher Education. In Research Methods for the Self-study of Practice (pp. 73–82). Springer, Dordrecht. Doi: 10.1007/978-1-4020-9514-6_5
LaBoskey, V. K., & Richert, A. E. (2015). Self-Study as a Means for Urban Teachers to Transform Academics. Studying Teacher Education, 11(2), 164–179. Doi: 10.1080/17425964.2015.1045774
Saldaña, J., & Omasta, M. (2017). Qualitative Research: Analyzing Life. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
Yin, R. K. (2017). Case Study Research and Applications: Design and Methods (Sixth). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.