Wikis and constructivism in secondary social studies: Fostering a deeper understanding

Jul 2, 2013, 13:02 PM
Heafner, T.L. & Friedman, A.M. (2008). Wikis and Constructivism in Secondary Social Studies: Fostering a Deeper Understanding. Computers in the Schools, 25(3), 288-302.


  • Grade/Age Level: Students in the 11th grade
  • Specific Difficulties Addressed: Student-centered social studies lessons
  • Type of AT Used: Student developed wikis



  • A quasi-experimental design was used; one teacher taught one class a traditional lesson, while another class was taught the same lesson using wikis.
  • Wiki pages were completed in an 8 page scrapbook style displaying themes from World War II.
  • Data collection included observational data, teacher interviews, unit and post-test scores, student questionnaires, and student interviews completed 8 months after the intervention.
  • The social studies unit occurred over a 2 week period.


  • Attendance in the class using wikis classroom improved over the 2 week unit as well as completion of assigned reading guides, and both measures of student engagement.
  • Wikis were used to build literal and figurative links between the events of World War II.
  • Students completed wikis unique in content.
  • The wiki project supported collaborative and communicative learning.
  • Students in the control/traditional course outperformed students in the wiki course on the end-of-course test (86.1 and 79.4, respectively)
  • However, 8 months after completion of the project students from each condition were given a posttest to assess long term memory of the lesson and students in the wiki condition outperformed those in the control condition (66.0 and 44.0, respectively)
  • Qualitatively, in the interview 8 months after the project, students in the wiki condition were able to recall more details from the unit than those in the control condition.
  • This constructivist pedagogy provides evidence of long-term learning compared to traditional behavioralist methods.
  • Social Studies