The Research Querie project was designed to meet the
goal of using a discourse community to refine student thinking about a research topic and to
provide useful resources.
When students embark on a large research project, it is important that they sharpen their focus. One proven way of doing so is by articulating the project in the form of a question. Usually this question helps students refine their research strategies and develop an angle from which to write about their findings.
Since newsgroups are topic-centered forums where people post and reply to messages, in many ways they are query driven; posting a topic question makes excellent use of them as research resource. Not only can students test their initial ideas as a messages make their way through the "conversation" of the group, they can cull useful resources from the responses that they receive.
For example, two of my students focused their research topic into the question, "Why do people pay more for brand name prices?" After posting the question to several newsgroups, they received over a dozen responses. Some responses tried to answer their question directly, while others modified replies by other members of the group as the message went through the dialectic of newsgroup discussion.
Eventually, many of the replies found their way into the student project. Since they were working with the World Wide Web, students were able to provide the full text of all of the responses that they received in their project. Additionally, they were able to link to the newsgroups that they had posted to, so that readers could continue the discusion on their own.
Please take a look at the final version of the student project.
If you are interested in the assignments that generated this project, you might take a look at the original assignment. To complete the project, students followed four tasks,