Saturday, June 11, 2011

Wikipedia Redux

Those of you who read my post on the Great Wikipedia Question  ("Edupunks, Latin American Literature, and a Wikipedia Confession" ) will be interested to see how it's handled in a rubric developed by Linda Goldsworthy, a high school teacher in Wisconsin.  Rather than forbid the use of Wikipedia and its ilk, Goldsworthy evaluates student research papers by applying criteria of "overview sources," "directly credited sources," "authoritative quality of sources" and finally, formatting:
> My research paper/project  Works Cited Rubric includes "Overview
> Sources" which can include things like wikipedia, World Book, etc.
> so that students gather key names, places, events, etc.  It is
> meant to give them an idea about their topic. It consists of 10% of
> the rubric.   I let them know that in many college courses,
> wikipedia is an unacceptable source and my goal is to wean them
> from it.  I do spend some time pointing out the references at the
> bottom as potential places to get better material.
> Next, I use "Directly Credited Sources" which can include primary
> sources, secondary sources, etc.  My high school subscribes to many
> databases including things like ABC-CLIO, Opposing Viewpoints and
> Jstor. This may be worth as much as 30% on the works cited rubric.
> The third, and most important part of my rubric uses "Authoritative
> Quality of Sources"  This is usually 40% of the Works Cited rubric.
> Kids know that I spend a lot of time looking at their sites and
> the QUALITY of the sources they use.  The use of the subcription
> databases always let me know that authoritative quality is much
> higher than other sites students frequently want to use.
> The remainder of my rubrics deal with MLA/APA/ASA or whatever
> format I am using as well as spelling, etc. for the last 20%.
> I worked very closely with the librarian at out school to develop
> this rubric.  She's actually assists me during the early stages of
> teaching the students as she knows what works best.
> My goal is to wean use of overview sources and encourage thinking
> skills that help them fine tune their researching abilities.
Wikipedia isn't going away anytime soon, and do we really want it to?  I like this approach because instead of flat and futile prohibitions on using the source we secretly use ourselves, it guides the students towards learning to evaluate and make judgments about web sources on their own.  The sooner the better, I say.

*About the illustration:  I created this by downloading an image of a confessional from the web, then uploading it to  Be Funky, and using this free photo-editing web tool to paste in a speech bubble. Then I cut and pasted the Wikipedia graphic (badly, I admit) using Sumo Paint, a free web editing and painting tool.  It took me all afternoon, and I loved it.

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