Communities of Practice are defined as an organized group of professional people who share the same interests in resolving an issue, improving skills, and learning from each other’s experiences.
Community of Practice members:
- Share expertise in and commitment to the focus area.
- Engage in collective dialogue and activities to learn how to enhance similar initiatives.
- Produce a collection of resources. For instance, shared experience, knowledge, tools that informs their work (individually or the field).
Communities of Practice are important because they:
- Connect people who might not have connected on their own.
- Provide a shared space to connect around one another’s experiences.
- Enable dialogue.
- Stimulate learning by promoting self-reflection, coaching, and communication.
- Capture and diffuse existing knowledge to assist members in enhancing their field.
- Introduce a collaborative process to stimulate ideas.
- Produce purposeful actions that deliver results.
- Generate new knowledge.
Learning theories associated with Communities of Practice:
- Constructivist Theory – create new knowledge based on current/past knowledge.
- Critical Theory – address inequalities in institutions.
- Social Learning Theory – observing and modeling behaviors leads to learning.
Role Communities of Practice play in the Shared Competencies:
The goal of each community is to lead efforts in enhancing undergraduate education around the community’s competency area. This goal is achieved by answering key questions and taking actions during the following phases:
- What does the competency mean in various disciplines?
- What are 4-5 key learning outcomes all students should know and be
able to demonstrate?
- What does successful demonstration of the learning outcomes look like?
- What do faculty and staff need to support students in their competency development?
- Who, campus or national experts, can engage faculty and staff in professional development opportunities?
- When will these professional development opportunities take place?
Learn more about two Communities of Practice and their work:
If you are interested in joining a community, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Since 2020, this community has developed learning outcomes and a rubric to assess student achievement. The outcomes and rubric are currently being tested in the inaugural Shared Competencies Academy: Signature Assignments for Information Literacy and Technological Agility. Once the Academy concludes, the outcomes and rubric will be shared with the campus.
Learn more about Communities of Practice:
- Cambridge, D., Kaplan, S., & Suter, V. (2005). Community of practice design guide. Retrieved from https://transitiepraktijk.nl/files/Community%20of%20practice%20guide.pdf.
- Communities of Practice One Page Overview (*pdf).
- Wenger, E., McDermott, R., & Snyder, W. (2002). Cultivating communities of practice: A guide to managing knowledge. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.
- Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of practice: learning, meaning, and identity. Cambridge University Press.