Case study: Using wikis for group projects in dentistry

Origin

School of Oral and Dental Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Bristol

Tools used

Objective

Use wikis to track and structure collaborative student projects

Background

Traditionally, third year dentistry students were asked to complete an individual library project. However tutors felt that this was not the best use of the students time: it could be an isolating experience for students, they had done a similar project the year before, and tutors were concerned that students were not getting enough feedback and support during the process.

What was done

The individual project was replaced with a collaborative project. The students were asked to work in small groups to research a specified topic preparing literature reviews, etc. They were asked to complete a wiki as they went along. This allowed tutors to track their progress and form the basis of their assessed mark.

Outcomes

The exercise worked but refinements were needed after the first year.

Initially students struggled with the formatting and learning the software, and this detracted from the real purpose of their task. In following years, the wikis were semi-populated with a clear pre-set structure.

Tutors were also concerned that one or two members of each group actually ended up doing most of the work. Students now get an individual mark for contribution to the wiki (including assessment of the quality of their peer feedback). In addition, groups are now required to do an oral presentation as well as create their wiki, with all members of the group receiving same mark for the this presentation.