Education/Case Studies/content

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Content added to Wikipedia

Anne J. McNeil
Seyhan N. Eğe Assistant Professor of Chemistry
University of Michigan

Course name
Organic Chemistry of Macromolecules
Physical Organic Chemistry

Course level (undergraduate/graduate)
Ph.D. courses, though advanced undergraduates also took the course and participated in the projects

Learning objectives
Writing Skills Development    
Media and Information Literacy
Critical Thinking and Research Skills    
Wiki Technical and Communication Skills   

Discipline of course

Class size

Individual or group assignment
Groups of 2–3

Organic Chemistry of Macromolecules syllabus
Peer review guidelines


The students worked in small groups to edit a Wikipedia article that is related to the course material and not already adequately described in Wikipedia.

I gave the students a set of minimum expectations: at least 3 sections, 3 figures, and 8 references must be added to the article. Then, during the two-stage peer review process, I gave the students a list of questions meant to provide more specific guidelines about what is expected. For example, “is the article suitable for first-time/general users as well as those looking to understand the topic in more detail?” I also used these questions when determining their final grade. I had the students present their individual contribution to the article, which allowed me to give students different grades within each group based on their individual efforts.

Breaking down the grading into sections (content, figures, references, presentation, peer reviews, etc) gave me a simple yet fair structure with which to evaluate the article. Each student received a unique grade, which is variable based on his or her individual contribution to the article and their peer reviews. This alleviates any concern by the students when someone does not pull their weight.

(CC-BY-SA 3.0) by Matthew B. Soellner