Online Interest Groups: Virtual Gathering Spaces to Promote Graduate Student Interaction
Moore, Sharon L.
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This article discusses a 15 month educational innovation project, the objective of which was to investigate the perceptions of health profession students about their participation in a program-wide virtual community gathering space (Clinical Interest Groups) during their online graduate studies. Participants were students in two graduate programs who joined online forum discussions of the Clinical Interest Groups. The project was developed as action research and employed an exploratory, descriptive methodology to generate data from three sources: participant responses to a 15-item Likert type questionnaire, five open-ended questions included on the questionnaire, and online postings contributed by participants to the forum discussions. Findings of use to online educators are that the Clinical Interest Groups provided a gathering place in which graduate students could discuss common interests and support one another, and that participation in the groups was limited due to competing demands on students’ time from other commitments.