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An Equity-Minded Approach to Faculty Development in a Community of Practice


Communities of Practice (CoPs) have been identified as successful models of innovation in higher education institutional change efforts, particularly geared toward faculty. Accordingly, this multi-method qualitative study examined how participation in one equity-minded CoP contributed to participants’ understanding and mobilization of equity in their work at a public university in the Northeast United States. Through grounded theory, the authors investigated how participants critiqued current educational inequities, supported one another, shared knowledge and resources, and championed social change, while situated within oppressive academic structures. Although all participants aimed to contribute to equitable practices, findings showcased evidence of accomplice behavior given the nature of academia. However, the CoP provided a unique and supportive space for faculty to critique perceived inequities and systems of power and actively advocate for social justice change in their educational environments.

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The authors would like to thank Dr. Karen Pelletrau and Dr. Susan Gardner who organized the Teaching with Equity Community of Practice on which this research focused. We would also like to acknowledge their continuous commitment to equity in higher education.

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Correspondence to Leah Hakkola.

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We have no conflicts of interests to disclose.

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Hakkola, L., Ruben, M.A., McDonnell, C. et al. An Equity-Minded Approach to Faculty Development in a Community of Practice. Innov High Educ 46, 393–410 (2021).

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  • change model
  • Community of practice
  • Equity
  • Faculty
  • Grounded theory