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A group psychotherapeutic perspective on transforming participation in a learning community


The aim of this study is to investigate learners’ transforming participation as they enter and engage in a learning community. To do this, we investigated the micro-development of two students’ learning and collaborative practices in the context of a unique learning community that was fostered within a graduate level course. Interpretations of the data, which were reviewed by the researchers and triangulated by a group of expert and novice peers, led us to suggest three dimensions of transforming participation that is based on a group psychotherapy framework: (a) the social microcosm—examining one’s learning and collaboration practices in the LC in comparison with one’s everyday life; (b) developing the motivation to change based on dissatisfaction or a desire to grow; and (c) making incremental changes to practices in a socio-cultural context. We discuss the intricacies and implications of this framework for future research on learning communities.

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Fig. 1


  1. Although there are many types of GPs, in this paper we refer to the principles underlying predominant GP, which has an interpersonal focus, as described by Yalom and Leszcz (2005) in their highly regarded review of the field.

  2. The second author of this paper.

  3. The LC included participants with various religious beliefs (Christian, Druze, Jewish, Muslim), mother tongues (Arabic, English, Hebrew), and nationalities (Israeli, Palestinian) that are aspects of the region’s intractable political conflict (Salomon 2006).

  4. Brackets signify additions for the reader to clarify the contributor’s intention or to provide meaningful information about the context.

  5. All quotes were originally said or written in Hebrew, and have been translated for this paper. As part of our study, we closely examined the meaning of every word to make sure the translation was as close as possible to the original intention of the contributor.

  6. All course participants were designated pseudonyms to maintain their confidentiality.

  7. See Points-of-You Coaching Cards series:

  8. A collective community within Israel that has roots in socialist ideals, but today has adapted to modern lifestyle while keeping some traditional foundations.

  9. The number and letter Nx before the hyphen represent the week and type of session. The number represents the week; the letter represents either the ftf interaction (letter a) or online interaction (letter b). The numbers following the hyphen represent each utterance unit. In ftf sessions, these proceed when there is a change in speaker. For written contributions, these proceed with every paragraph that the writer has started. Lines are intentionally skipped when verbalizations or written comments are irrelevant. We occasionally omit irrelevant text to save space, represented by ellipses.


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Correspondence to Yotam Hod.

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Hod, Y., Ben-Zvi, D. A group psychotherapeutic perspective on transforming participation in a learning community. Instr Sci 42, 949–970 (2014).

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  • Group psychotherapy
  • Learning community
  • Micro-development
  • Participation transformation
  • Social microcosm theory