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Benjamin Turner

Using Wikipedia to Promote Critical Thinking and Research Skills among Undergraduates

Benjamin Turner, University Libraries


Many faculty members and educators hold negative views of the “Free Encyclopedia,” citing its lack of adherence to traditional editing practices and peer review, and to the unreliable quality of much of its content. While our students’ overreliance on Wikipedia as a research source can indeed be frustrating, Wikipedia also offers educational opportunities not found in more traditional publications. Wikipedia’s “Talk” pages, for example, can help students understand the points of contention related to a particular issue. The “History” pages show how pages change over time through additions and edits. The fact that anyone with Internet access can edit Wikipedia also makes it possible for students to share their research on Wikipedia, either by improving existing articles or creating new articles entirely. Professor Turner will discuss how he has used Wikipedia in his section of Discover New York, which focuses on early twentieth century New York history.