More about the study:

Research Objectives:

  1. To identify some aspects of the processes and strategies of learning (intended and unintended) that are associated with VLEs, both with subject area and generically
  2. To identify any specific changes in student attitudes to their learning, motivation or adaptation to VLEs by contrasting first time use with more experienced use throughout the period of a course.
  3. To establish a cross-disciplinary evidence base on how VLEs can support learning and contribute to our understanding of the factors that may influence successful teaching and learning strategies.
  4. To identify and investigate any unintended findings or outcomes where they emerge.


The project adopted the evaluation framework set out in the handbook for learner-centered evaluation of computer facilitated learning projects in higher education (Philips et al., 2000) and some of the guidance in this handbook had been applied.  Several aspects of the research also drew on the Critical Incident Technique pioneered by Lockwood (Gilbert and Lockwood, 1999).

The approach was designed to provide an in-depth set of case studies based on course modules across a range of subjects, with a wide range of data and collection methods. The main elements we used, in a 10 week unit, were as follows.


The aim of the sampling criteria was to ensure that the case studies reflected as much of the variety of higher education as possible, plus two pilot studies in further education. The agreed criteria were:


The project has produced a wide range of outputs including individual case study reports, discourse analysis study report and a serious of thematic reports on cross cutting issues such as motivation and communications.

Access to all reports and outputs are available in Findings and Outputs


Anderson, L. & Krathwohl, D. (2001) A Taxonomy for Learning and Assessing: A revision of Bloom's Taxonomy of Educational Objectives. Longman: New York.

Bloom, B. S. (1956 -1964) Taxonomy of Education Objectives, David McKay Company: New York

Horton, W. (2000) Designing Web-Based Traning, Wiley Inc.: USA

Gilbert, N. and Lockwood, A. (1999) Critical Incident Technique. In: Handbook of Contemporary Hospitality Management Research.  Edited by B. Brotherton. Weimar, Texas: Culinary and Hospitality Industry Publications Services.

Phillips R. (ed), Bain J., McNaught C., Rice M., Tripp D. (2000) Handbook for learner-centred evaluation of computer facilitated learning projects in higher education. Murdoch University, Australia. Available at:

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