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Using a wiki to evaluate individual contribution to a collaborative learning project

Notes on a paper by G.Trentin

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Juliette Culver
22 January 2009

This paper describes using a wiki for a co-writing activity i.e. an activity which assigns students the task of collaboratively developing a written text.


Advantages of using a wiki for this over e.g. sharing files include the shared responsibility of editorship, easier monitoring for teachers and the way that students can access the writing of other students easily.


The co-writing activity


Used on a course on Network Technology & Human Resources Development at the University of Turin with about 30 students.


  • Students were asked to write pages on the wiki with summaries of particular subjects with no more than 20 lines per page, linking to new pages if they wanted to include more information on particular topics.
  • Groups of students were asked to agree on style guidelines.
  • Phase 1: Individual Study. Students given theme for a short thesis, provided with recommended study materials.
  • Phase 2: Co-planning and division of work. On forums, group required to decide on the sections, subsections and home page layout and division of work.
  • Phase 2: Content development. Students developed the section and linking pages (forming a 'page cluster') assigned to them.
  • Phase 3: Linking. Students asked to browse the entire wiki and link from their page cluster to relevant pages compiled by others. They were encouraged not to leave this until the end. Move from hierarchical to reticular structure via this phase.
  • Phase 4: Peer Review. Students asked to peer review all the pages and make suggestions using the 'comments' function for each page.




This is something that often causes difficulty for co-writing activities.  


This was based on:

  • The teacher assessing the pages, links and comments to see if students had met the learning objectives
  • Peer review by students of the quality of eachothers work
  • Assessment of the collobarative process - see below.


Assessment of the colloborative process was based on a weighting and normalisation of the following:


  • Forum contribution. 3a+1.5b+05c, where a = percentage of total 'content' messages, b = percentage of total 'co-ordination' messages, c = 'percentage of total 'other' messages (and normalised). Also asked students to peer review eachothers contributions with mark from 0 to 5 - close agreement between this and the scores.
  • Peer review contribution. Each author scored each comment from 0 to 5 according to how useful they found it.
  • Reticularity contribution. Percentage of total links.
  • Content contribution. Percentage of pages.


Also evaluation of each of the collaborative processes (forum, peer review, reticularity) via incidence matrices showing responses between particular people with each element in the matrix weighted by quantity or quality. Concept of 'Centrality Index' was used here.


Contact details: Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, Volume 25 Issue 1 (February 2009)

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