Sense of community in academic communities of practice: predictors and effects
- 1.2k Downloads
Sense of community (SoC) in communities of practice (CoP) seems to play a similar role to that of group cohesion in small groups: Both sustain participants’ knowledge sharing, which in turn substantiates the socio-cognitive structures that make up the CoP such as scholar identities, practical repertoires in research and teaching or relationships between colleagues. However, empirical evidence of relationships between SoC and other CoP variables is scarce. A correlation study among German and Romanian scholars (N = 136) investigates predictors and effects of the social component of SoC (SoC-S) in academia. A conceptual model is validated, displaying CoP members’ socio-emotional interpersonal knowledge as the strongest predictor of SoC-S and of knowledge sharing acceptance. Further, SoC-S significantly mediates the effect of time and centrality in CoP on knowledge sharing acceptance. The model explains a relatively large part of the variance of SoC-S (27 %) and of knowledge sharing acceptance (33 %). For academic practice, the study emphasizes the importance of SoC and interpersonal knowledge in academic communities as major factors of community building and knowledge sharing motivation.
KeywordsSense of community Community of practice Socio-emotional interpersonal knowledge Higher education
The authors would like to thank Anna Maria August and Anamaria Dorgo for their contributions to data collection, and Jan Oliver Heymann for his support in statistical data processing. Also, the first author is grateful to the Department of Learning Science, Hiroshima University, Japan, for the visiting professorship during which this article was written.
- Aronson, E., Wilson, T. D., & Akert, R. M. (2010). Social psychology (7th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
- Brewe, E., Kramer, L., & Sawtelle, V. (2012). Investigating student communities with network analysis of interactions in a physics learning center. Physical Review Special Topics-Physics Education Research, 8. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevSTPER.8.010101.
- Cigognani, E., Palestrini, L., Albanesi, C., & Zani, B. (2012). Social identification and sense of community among members of a cooperative company: The role of perceived organizational values. Journal of Applied Psychology, 42(5), 1088–1113.Google Scholar
- Collins, A. (2006). Cognitive apprenticeship. In R. Keith Sawyer (Ed.), The Cambridge handbook of the learning sciences (pp. 47–60). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Dawson, S. (2008). A study of the relationship between student social networks and sense of community. Educational Technology & Society, 11(3), 224–238.Google Scholar
- Diekamp, O. (2007). Interpersonales Wissen und kooperatives Lernen im virtuellen Seminar [Interpersonal knowledge and cooperative learning in a virtual seminar]. Berlin: Logos.Google Scholar
- Dornbusch, F., & Brenner, T. (2013). Universities as local knowledge hubs under different technology regimes. New evidence from academic patenting. Working Papers Firms and Region, No. R6/2013. Karlsruhe, Germany: Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research, ISI Competence Center “Policy and Regions”. http://www.isi.fhg.de/isi-media/docs/p/de/arbpap_unternehmen_region/ap_r6_2013.pdf.
- Eberle, J., Stegmann, K., & Fischer, F. (2014). Legitimate peripheral participation in communities of practice—Participation support structures for newcomers in faculty student councils. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 1–29. doi: 10.1080/10508406.2014.883978
- Fischer, F., & Mäkitalo-Siegl, K. (Eds.) (2011). Special Section II: Stretching the limits in help-seeking research: Theoretical, methodological, and technological advances. Learning and Instruction, 21(2):243–299.Google Scholar
- Goffman, E. (1959). The presentation of self in everyday life. New York: Doubleday.Google Scholar
- Huang, F., Finkelstein, M. J., & Rostan, M. (Eds.). (2014). The internationalisation of the academy. Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
- Nistor, N. & Fischer, F. (2012). Communities of practice in academia: Testing a quantitative model. Learning, Culture and Social Interaction, 1(2), 114–126. doi: 10.1016/j.lcsi.2012.05.005.
- Nonaka, I., & Takeuchi, H. (1995). The knowledge-creating company: How Japanese companies create the dynamics of innovation. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Pyhältö, K., Nummenmaa, A. R., Soini, T., Stubb, J., & Lonka, K. (2012). Research on scholarly communities and development of scholarly identity in Finnish doctoral education. In S. Ahola & D. M. Hoffman (Eds.), Higher Education research in Finland. Emerging structures and contemporary issues (pp. 337–357). Jyväskylä: University Press.Google Scholar
- Schmidt, H., & Moust, J. (2000). Factors affecting small group tutorial learning: A review of research. In D. Evenson & C. Hmelo (Eds.), Problem-based learning: A research perspective on learning interactions (pp. 19–52). London: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
- Weiss, A. (2009). Communities als Speicher und Quelle von Wissen. Eine empirische Untersuchung in der Praxisgemeinschaft der Fernfahrer [Communities as knowledge resource. An empirical study in a truck driver community of practice]. Unpublished M.A. thesis. München: Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Chair of Education and Educational Psychology.Google Scholar
- Wenger, E. (1999). Communities of practice, learning, meaning, and identity. Cambridge, UK: University Press.Google Scholar