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Tip! Look But Don’t Cite Wikipedia

shutterstock_36143227The goal of middle level educators is to get — and keep — students on a college track. So, why allow your students to develop habits — including research habits — that do not serve the college readiness goal?

Permitting students to cite Wikipedia as a source impedes the development of good research skills, and allows students to develop a habit or practice that does not serve the college readiness goal. Most colleges and college professors do not consider Wikipedia to be a ”citable source” for a college paper. While Wikipedia is an excellent place for jump-starting research, or for checking basic facts, it is a tertiary source, at best. Unfortunately, throughout middle and high school, many students are allowed to rely on Wikipedia, and enter college without acceptable research skills.

So, what’s the best policy? 1. Follow a “Look But Don’t Cite” Wikipedia policy mirroring what will be expected of students in college. 2. Teach your students about primary, secondary and tertiary sources, the differences between them, how to find them and how to use them. Don’t let them develop habits that do not serve their college goal!

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