More than half of college students frequently or always consult Wikipedia for course-related research, according to a report published in First Monday, an online, peer-reviewed journal. Only 22 percent of respondents to the survey said they rarely or never use Wikipedia. The study is based on responses from 2,318 students and qualitative data from 86 who participated in focus groups.
The most common reason that students reported using Wikipedia was to obtain background information or a summary about a topic and to get started with research. Only 16 percent of survey respondents said they used Wikipedia because of its wiki capabilities. Students were far more likely to use Wikipedia at the very begining or near the begining of research than at the end of the process.
The study also examined which students were most likely to use Wikipedia. Those majoring in architecture, engineering, or science were likelier than others to do so. The strongest predictor was the use of Google for course-related research. In addition, students at two-year colleges were less likely than those at four-year colleges to use Wikipedia. And students who reported consulting with librarians were less likely to use Wikipedia than other students were.