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The pedagogical functions of simple World Wide Web-based discussions during work-based learning periods in vocational education were examined in a study of a secondary-level work-based practical nursing program in Finland. The students (age range, 16 to 43 years) participated in 17 Web discussion groups during their 120-week practical nursing program. The discussion groups were designed to provide tutoring during workplace learning periods. Depending on the phase of the students' study, each group contained between 2 and 28 members. All the tutoring teachers had completed a 10-hour course on the principles of authentic Web discussion. The students' Web discussion data included 7,913 separate messages that were coded based on 13 quality criteria. The teachers' initial expectations regarding long authentic discussion chains were not completely fulfilled. Most discussions ended after the first follow-up question was answered. Nevertheless, the discussions were often quite authentic and relevant. Typically, the recognitions were factual and mostly informative. Only occasionally did someone notice an important topic on someone else's message in the discussion. All too often, meaningful topics were left without comment. It was suggested that the typical Finnish Web discussion style may be for students to open the Web forum only to read other members' messages rather than to write something themselves. (Contains 10 references.) (MN)

Descriptors: Allied Health Occupations Education, Developed Nations, Discussion (Teaching Technique), Foreign Countries, Group Discussion, Group Dynamics, Listservs, Nurses, Secondary Education, Student Projects, Tutoring, Vocational Education, Web Based Instruction, Work Experience Programs, World Wide Web

Autor: Mahlamaki-Kultanen, Seija; Hulkari, Kirsti


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