Final Project: Wikipedia and Remedial Education

Note: This post is an assignment for Nicco Mele’s Course – Media, Politics and Power in the Digital Age – it summarizes a proposal for my final project.

Throughout our semester in MPP Digital course, I’ve been really interested in Nicco Mele’s assertion that (paraphrased) if you care about a policy issue, you better also care a lot about what it says on that issue’s Wikipedia page. More people go to a Wikipedia page on a topic on any given day than a report you write, a blog you draft or a think-tank’s website.

Earlier in the semester I did a blog analyzing Wikipedia’s page on remedial education. Remedial education is the broad label for courses that students on community college or university campuses take when they enter with ACT or SAT scores below a certain pre-determined threshold.

In 2011, over 22,000 Mississippi community college students took a remedial course in math or english or both subjects. We know that students that start college under-prepared, and that as a result need remedial courses, are substantially less likely to graduate than their college-ready counterparts.

For my final project, I would really like to focus on expanding the current scope of the remedial education writing on Wikipedia. So far, I’ve been interacting on the talk page of the WikiEducation Project to ask questions about making additions to the current page. However, the current page on remedial education deliberately has a worldwide focus and a narrow subsection for the United States. A czar for the Wikipedia Education project asked me last week if I was planning to edit the current remediation page or start a new Wikipedia page just about remediation in the US. I certainly think that given the current research and investment in remedial programs across the country, there would be enough to talk about remedial education specific to the US, but starting a new page feels a bit daunting.

Below is my interaction (as AllinCharlie) with the czar and others about adapting the current remedial education page on Wikipedia. This discussion also shifts to the question about creating a new US-specific page:

Screenshot 2013-11-12 20.49.24

Following the czar’s request, I also posted the question on the talk page for the current remedial education page on November 3rd and haven’t yet received any responses:

Screenshot 2013-11-12 20.48.47I have tried to be very sensitive and conscious of the other users of the Wikipedia community as I move forward with the additions. Ideally, I would like to create a new, US remedial education page that is structured with information about many of the issues I outline on the WikiProject Education talk page. For example:

  1. What remedial courses are typically taught and through what class environment,
  2. Background on the portion of students needing remedial support at colleges/universities.
  3. Research on persistence/graduation rates of remedial students,
  4. The differences between remedial education at community colleges and universities,
  5. Philanthropic (and federal) efforts to strengthen remedial education, and
  6. Research on various interventions with remedial students and their outcomes.

Some of the resources I plan to tap for drafting the entry/entries include: the Community College Research Center, the National Center for Education Statistics, the Kresge Foundation, the Gates Foundation, the National Governor’s Association, the Harvard Kennedy School Online Journal Subscriptions, and resources from Complete College America.

I welcome any thoughts on next steps given my current vision and current interaction with the Wikipedia community! I’ve already made several additions to the current remedial education page, and it has been a fun process. Looking forward to moving ahead and working on beefing up the content on an area I feel is very important to the success of students in higher education.

Until Next Time!



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