Communities of practice: a sphere of influence enhancing teaching and learning in higher education

Lawrence, Jill and Sankey, Michael (2008) Communities of practice: a sphere of influence enhancing teaching and learning in higher education. In: 2008 Australian and New Zealand Communication Association Conference (ANZCA 2008): Power and Place, 9-11 Jul 2008, Wellington, New Zealand.

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Power is framed within systems of influence and, in higher education, one field of influence potentially lies in the discourses cultivated and disseminated within a Community of Practice (CoP). Communities of practice provide contexts for sustained professional conversations around identified domain and practice issues. These are particularly pertinent in the Australian higher education sector which is facing significant challenges from individual, institutional and societal demands on university teaching and learning with academics increasingly overwhelmed by continuous change, excessive workloads and research output demands. This paper reports on a Community of Practice which was initiated to improve the quality of first year teaching in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Southern Queensland (USQ). Topics covered by the community include course design, embedding academic values, graduate attributes, and student retention strategies. The paper will also report on a research project which complemented the Community of Practice, its purpose to evaluate the community's effectiveness as a sphere of influence in transforming the faculty teaching and learning culture. The project found that the community has significantly contributed to the professional development of participating staff, fostering a transformative learning approach for these teachers. It has also provided a vehicle for disseminating best practice to promote quality teaching and learning across the Faculty. In describing the ways in which the community influences the communication processes within the faculty, the paper demonstrates how a community of practice approach can exercise power: how it can strive to augment an organisation's communication processes to enhance teaching and learning within a higher education context.

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Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Commonwealth Reporting Category E) (Paper)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Authors retain copyright. This publication is copyright. It may be reproduced in whole or in part for the purposes of study, research, or review, but is subject to the inclusion of an acknowledgment of the source.
Faculty / Department / School: Historic - Faculty of Arts - Department of Humanities and International Studies
Date Deposited: 15 Jul 2008 00:23
Last Modified: 23 May 2017 01:23
Uncontrolled Keywords: community of practice; first year students; teaching; student retention; organisational communication
Fields of Research : 13 Education > 1303 Specialist Studies in Education > 130313 Teacher Education and Professional Development of Educators
16 Studies in Human Society > 1608 Sociology > 160809 Sociology of Education
13 Education > 1301 Education Systems > 130103 Higher Education
Socio-Economic Objective: E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970113 Expanding Knowledge in Education

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