About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 1286-1289
Publication year: 2011
ISBN: 978-84-615-0441-1
ISSN: 2340-1117

Conference name: 3rd International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 4-6 July, 2011
Location: Barcelona, Spain


T. Freire, J. Li

National University of Singapore (SINGAPORE)
Instructors are increasingly recognizing the importance of written assignments. In particular, in the US, the Writing Across the Curriculum program, started in 1980s highlight the critical role of writing in the learning process. According to Hansen (1998), the objective of these assignments in upper-level courses is to improve student writing but also improving their understanding of the material. However, according to Becker and Watts (1996), in the US, only 23% of instructors require term papers in upper-level courses, and only 11 percent of instructors require shorter papers. Hansen (1998) lists three reasons which could explain this trend. First, the increasing time demands that faculty faces leads to use written assignment, in particular in large classes. Second, the low quality of student writing has lead instructors shy away from requiring much writing from students. Finally, the fact that most instructors are not confident writers themselves, they are reluctant to set weak standards on their own students. Finally, Hansen (1998) also points out that students often focus on grades rather than feedback, and often these semester wide assignments, due at the end of the semester, are not picked up by students.
In this paper I look at changes introduced to the traditional essay assignment to a third year economics course at the National University of Singapore. In particular, we break the traditional essay assignment in this course into two. The first part consists of creating or adding to a Wikipedia entry. We argue that this assignment can do a better job at developing what Hansen (1986) argues are three important skills: accessing existing knowledge; displaying command of existing knowledge; and interpreting existing knowledge. It also addresses two of the problems mentioned above: students can get feedback from the entire Wikipedia community (not just faculty) and it reduces the costs of grading assignments for faculty. The second part of the assignment consists of a proposal to create a new Social Enterprise or Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), which could be submitted funding organizations. We argue that this section develops in students two important skills (Hansen (1986)): applying existing knowledge; and creating new knowledge. Furthermore, we argue that, making the assignment useable outside the classroom, increases students' interest in the assignment and leads to more useful feedback. We illustrate the effectiveness of our approach using responses to a student survey done at the end of the semester.
author = {Freire, T. and Li, J.},
series = {3rd International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies},
booktitle = {EDULEARN11 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-615-0441-1},
issn = {2340-1117},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Barcelona, Spain},
month = {4-6 July, 2011},
year = {2011},
pages = {1286-1289}}
AU - T. Freire AU - J. Li
SN - 978-84-615-0441-1/2340-1117
PY - 2011
Y1 - 4-6 July, 2011
CI - Barcelona, Spain
JO - 3rd International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
JA - EDULEARN11 Proceedings
SP - 1286
EP - 1289
ER -
T. Freire, J. Li (2011) ECONOMICAL ESSAYS, EDULEARN11 Proceedings, pp. 1286-1289.