Learning how to learn using a virtual learning environment for philosophy

Many students find theoretical subjects hard and challenging. Although they may pass modules in the subject, they often fail to attain a deeper, conceptual understanding. coMentor, a virtual learning environment on the WWW was developed to support such conceptual subjects by providing facilities for debate, discussion, groupwork, resource sharing and vicarious learning. The system was evaluated with undergraduates taking a philosophy module. Although there was no unequivocal evidence of gains in final assessment in those using the system, there was evidence of other forms of learning. Students learned from seeing each other's work, from having to 'write' down their ideas and share them with others and they adopted learning styles that were beneficial to learning a theoretical subject matter. Using a Learning Styles Inventory Scale, those using coMentor showed higher levels of deep learning and significantly higher levels of strategic learning than those who used the system little.
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