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Virtual carrots, sticks and student engagement : supporting student researchers

Cassidy, Claire and Rimpiläinen, Sanna (2011) Virtual carrots, sticks and student engagement : supporting student researchers. Technology, Pedagogy and Education, 20 (2). pp. 209-225. ISSN 1475-939X

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This article describes a three-year research project which aimed to introduce a technological innovation in working with three cohorts of undergraduate students to support them in completing their final-year dissertations through the use of a Virtual Research Environment (VRE). An additional aim of the project was to establish, amongst the students, a Community of Enquiry. Drawing on evidence from module evaluations, focus group interviews and user logs, the article highlights how students engaged with the VRE to support their research projects and their peers. By examining the activities of the three cohorts the authors were able to apply the seven key factors for building an educational Community of Enquiry outlined in previous research by the first author and colleagues to assert that the third cohort worked collaboratively to the degree that they could be said to have formed a Community of Enquiry.