cjencyclopedia.com: Online Encyclopedia of Criminal Justice

Student-Generated Content
Author Information
John Sener
The Sloan Consortium
Institution(s) or Organization(s) Where EP Occurred: 
University of North Carolina at Pembroke
Effective Practice Abstract/Summary
Abstract/Summary of Effective Practice: 

UNCP's Online Encyclopedia of Criminal Justice (cjencyclopedia.com) uses student-generated content to create encyclopedia entries on topics pertaining to criminal justice and related fields. Students edit, revise, and organize content with the intent to provide a useful resource for learning about criminal justice and related topics.

Description of the Effective Practice
Description of the Effective Practice: 

cjencyclopedia.com, an online encyclopedia of criminal justice, is a wiki-based web site created by students in Dr. Kenneth Mentor's courses at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke (UNCP). The site's goal is "to create encyclopedia entries on a variety of subjects related to law, criminal justice, sociology, and criminology." The cjencyclopedia.com is a self-described "work in progress" which has been active since March 2005. In previous courses, Dr. Mentor's students created web pages as class assignments. The Online Encyclopedia of Criminal Justice project extends those efforts in two notably powerful ways: using a wiki enables student-generated content to be readily shared in virtual "public spaces" outside the classroom, and the wiki's ease of use enabled students to create lots of content in a short time. As Dr. Mentor notes, "compared to carrying files around on disks or flash drives, finding a parking spot, lab, printer, stapler, professor's mailbox, etc., the Wiki is easier." The site distinguishes between "Current Topics" Alternative Dispute Resolution and Criminal Procedure) and over a dozen "Other Topics" such as Judicial Decisionmaking, Criminal Justice Network, Death Penalty, and many others. Articles on the site are arranged in outline form under each topic; the outlines include topics for which articles are pending. The intent is to add and revise content so that the resulting site is a useful resource for learning about criminal justice and related topics. Besides generating and entering initial content, students also perform the roles of editing, revising, and organizing the content, which provides different learning experiences for students and means that the site is a "work in progress." Currently (Spring 2007 semester), the focus is on revising previous entries in an effort to bring them closer to current standards rather than on adding new entries. In particular, UNCP students are working on editing pages related to the Alternative Dispute Resolution and Criminal Procedure topics. Initially, all site content was generated by UNCP students; however, the site is now available for educators to use for class assignments. The site also allows other users to register and edit or make positive contributions to any page.

Supporting Information for this Effective Practice
Evidence of Effectiveness: 

According to Dr. Mentor, the project is "moving from experimentation to commitment" after having refined the assignments over the course of a couple semesters so that he feels that "this is a positive learning experience" in which students have enjoyed the process and produced substantive results. Plans are underway to begin a more formal data collection process. Site indexing had been blocked until further content revision occurred, but site indexing was recently allowed, which will enable collection of usage data. Dr. Mentor is also considering assessing the effects of creating content for virtual "public spaces" as well as the "community aspect" of the project. The latter focus is particularly pertinent since UNCP is a small school for which Dr. Mentor teaches several core departmental courses and sees many of the same students for several semesters. Since many of UNCP's criminal justice majors may make several contributions to the site, the web site becomes a long term project for students. Despite prior blockage of site indexing, cjencyclopedia.com is listed on merlot.org and has been found by lawcrawler.findlaw.com and the American Society of Criminology Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences web site.

How does this practice relate to pillars?: 

Faculty satisfaction, student satisfaction, access: see above comments.

Contact(s) for this Effective Practice
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