Enhancing students’ research and writing activities on the B- and C-levels through the use of a personal virtual learning space: examples from blended courses

Marie Källkvist, Cecilia Wadsö-Lecaros, Stephen Gomez, Holger Andersson

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper, not in proceedingpeer-review


Since undergraduate students often feel unprepared for and apprehensive of the research component included in the degree project (examensarbete) (Akister et al, 2006; I’Anson et al, 2004; Todd et al, 2004), we trialled the use of personal virtual learning spaces to support B- and C-level students’ research activities and enhance supervision of the writing process.

The personal virtual learning spaces were created through the Profile e-portfolio system (www. profile.ac.uk), giving each student a personal, password-controlled space. The space has two functions: a) interactive web-forms created by the tutors in order to structure the research and writing processes, to provide upload and download functions for essay drafts and to communicate with students, and b) a communication tool for one-to-one asynchronous written communication between each student and the tutor in order to provide individualised guidance.

The personal learning spaces were used to supervise research reports produced by B-level students at Malmö University School of Teacher Education. Two case studies were carried out in this setting to investigate students’ and their tutor’s perceptions of the usefulness of the learning spaces (Källkvist et al, in press). The results show the following: a) the introduction of the learning spaces into the course was trouble-free; b) the learning spaces were successfully used to increase students’ research activities, and as a result, requirements for their B-level research report were enhanced in order to more closely mirror the research and writing requirements in the degree project; and c) students and their tutor were overwhelmingly positive towards the use of the learning spaces, in particular towards the communication tool and the structured guidance provided by the interactive web-forms.

The personal virtual learning spaces were also used to enhance the structure of the bachelor degree essay course in English Literature at Lund University. In order to make students more aware of the writing process and research process, as well as increase peer collaboration and raise the pass rate on this particular course, a series of workshops and the use of the Profile electronic portfolio were added to the traditional teaching, consisting of seminars on essay writing and individual supervision. The course was strictly scheduled with deadlines for various stages of the essay drafts. At each deadline, students were asked to answer self-reflective questions on the progression of their work. Both students and the tutor were very positive towards the use of the communication tool and course format, with strict deadlines, close supervision and group work.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2009
EventNational Forum for English Studies, 2009 - Malmö University, Malmö, Sweden
Duration: 2009 Apr 162009 Apr 18


ConferenceNational Forum for English Studies, 2009

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Languages and Literature


  • SoTL


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