Enculturating a Community of Action: Health Professions Educators' Perspectives on Teaching With Wikipedia

Paolo C. Martin*, Lauren A. Maggio, Heather Murray, John M. Willinsky

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose Health professions educators are increasingly called on to engage learners in more meaningful instruction. Many have used Wikipedia to offer an applied approach to engage learners, particularly learning related to evidence-based medicine (EBM). However, little is known about the benefits and challenges of using Wikipedia as a pedagogic tool from the collective experience of educators who have sought to improve their instructional practice with it. This study aims to synthesize the perspectives of health professions education (HPE) instructors on the incorporation of Wikipedia editing into their HPE courses. Method Applying a constructivist approach, the authors conducted semistructured interviews from July to December 2020, with 17 participating HPE instructors who had substantively integrated Wikipedia into their curriculum at 13 institutions. Participants were interviewed about their experiences of integrating Wikipedia editing into their courses. Thematic analysis was conducted on resulting transcripts. Results The authors observed 2 broad themes among participants' expressed benefits of teaching with Wikipedia. First, Wikipedia provides a meaningful instructional alternative that also helps society and develops learners' information literacy and EBM skills. Second, Wikipedia supports learners' careers and professional identity formation. Identified challenges included high effort and time, restrictive Wikipedia sourcing guidelines, and difficult interactions with stakeholders. Conclusions Findings build on known benefits, such as providing a real-world collaborative project that contextualizes students' learning experiences. They also echo known challenges, such as the resource-intensive nature of teaching with Wikipedia. The findings of this study reveal the potential of Wikipedia to enculturate HPE students within a situated learning context. They also present implications for HPE programs that are considering implementing Wikipedia and faculty development needed to help instructors harness crowd-sourced information tools' pedagogic opportunities as well as anticipate their challenges.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)394-400
Number of pages7
JournalAcademic Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2023
Externally publishedYes


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