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Title: An investigation into the group work processes adopted by non-traditional, undergraduate learners on a UK Open University wholly online course
Author: Bradley, Sally Ann
ISNI:       0000 0004 2721 0294
Awarding Body: Lancaster University
Current Institution: Lancaster University
Date of Award: 2010
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This thesis reports the findings from the examination of online group work processes used by undergraduate, foundation level students on the UK Open University course 'T171: You, your computer and the net'. The qualitative research was undertaken by a practitioner researcher, utilising both the roles of researcher and tutor in the study. The in-depth research was conducted over a three year period, 2003 - 2005, with three consecutive tutor group cohorts. The virtual ethnographic study into the online group processes identified themes which emerged using a constructed grounded theory approach. Research into computer mediated conferencing in the online learning environment is well documented at postgraduate level. The course, T171, has also been extensively researched using quantitative research methods. This study builds on this earlier research, specifically focusing on group work. The emergent findings identify the long term impact of netiquette and how this influenced and impeded the development of constructivist learning. The online learning environment of FirstClass ™ conferencing affords collaborative and cooperative learning, yet cognition was restricted through adherence to netiquette. The emotional tensions experienced by the group, and in particular absent group members, were also concealed by the observance of netiquette. The findings of this study are significant as they address key features of recent Government reports: 'Higher Ambitions', 'Part-time Study in Higher Education' and 'On-line Innovation in Higher Education'. The findings will also inform course teams when planning group work activities for novice learners within the online environment. The methodological approach, using virtual ethnography and constructed grounded theory, together with the validation process contributes to the development of a model for practitioner enquiry into virtual learning environments within an educational setting.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available