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Multi-User Virtual Reality Technology as a Laboratory for Learning
about Social Research: Issues and Prospects
1. Gaining Practical Research Experience in Learning about Research Methods.
An increasing focus on formal research methods training has formed an important element in recent ESRC policy in the United Kingdom. Yet the form, content and pedagogy of research methods teaching in the social sciences remain somewhat contentious (see e.g. Bechhofer, 1996). As Eliot Eisner has pointed out it is important to develop encounters or learning activities which are "planned to provide the student with an opportunity to personalize learning" (1985, 69). On research methods courses most teachers provide such opportunities by putting students into some kind of explicit research context (Schutt et al., 1982, 233). Often this context involves students undertaking some actual research, either on an individual or a group basis. An alternative, and arguably superior approach, is to simulate features of the research process (Lee, 1987).
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