Library instruction and Wikipedia: investigating students’ perceived information literacy, lifelong learning, and social responsibility through Wikipedia editing


  • Melissa K. Kahili-Heede Information Services and Instruction Librarian, Health Sciences Library, John A. Burns School of Medicine at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, Honolulu, HI
  • Uday Patil Thompson School of Social Work and Public Health, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, Honolulu, HI
  • K. J. Hillgren Health Sciences Library, John A. Burns School of Medicine at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, Honolulu, HI
  • Earl Hishinuma Department of Psychiatry, John A. Burns School of Medicine at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, Honolulu, HI
  • Richard Kasuya Office of Medical Education, John A. Burns School of Medicine at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, Honolulu, HI



information literacy, social responsibility, Wikipedia


Objectives: This article presents a multiyear pilot study delineating practical challenges, solutions, and lessons learned from Wikipedia editing experiences with first-year medical students at the John A. Burns School of Medicine at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. The purpose of our project was to determine the feasibility and effectiveness of Wikipedia editing to improve information literacy and lifelong learning skills and to investigate aspects of social responsibility in first-year medical students.

Methods: Lessons were provided through a combination of in-person and online instruction via the WikiEdu learning management system (LMS). Students next selected a health-related Wikipedia article to edit. After the editing experience, structural completeness data were collected from the WikiEdu LMS. Feedback was collected via an anonymous retrospective pre-post survey to assess the students’ attitudes toward their perceived information literacy skills and the social responsibility of improving Wikipedia articles. Nonparametric tests were conducted to compare pre versus post outcomes.

Results: Fifty-seven (79%) participants in the 2018 cohort and forty-nine (64%) participants in the 2019 cohort completed the retrospective pre-post survey. In both cohorts, respondents showed statistically significant increases (p<.05) in self-rating of all ten domains of information literacy and social responsibility after completing the program.

Conclusions: This study showed that medical students are competent editors of Wikipedia and that their contributions improve both the quality of the articles and their own perceived information literacy. Additionally, editing medicine-related articles provides an opportunity to build students’ social responsibility by improving content on an open platform that reaches millions each day.


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