International Collaborative Writing Groups as Communities of Practice

  • Kelly E. Matthews
  • Beth Marquis
  • Mick Healey


Shared learning is central to communities of practice (CoP) which engender a process for social learning. CoP increasingly are being adopted in higher education as a professional development strategy to engage academics (‘faculty’ in North America) in capacity building activities. An International Collaborative Writing Group (ICWG) initiative was implemented in 2012, in association with the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, to build participants’ writing capacity and contribute new insight into scholarly teaching. Although not framed a priori as CoP, research from participants suggested that a sense of community, shared learning, and group leadership were central to the perceived success of, or disappointment with, the ICWG initiative. CoP emerged as a theoretical lens to illuminate how the practices of the 2012 ICWG initiative fostered participants’ sense of community. We draw on the three interrelated aspects of CoP: the domain-practice-community framework; the nurtured higher education CoP stages of development model; and the notion of digital habitats. The application of CoP theory to the ICWG practice proved fruitful by revealing strategies to enhance the ICWG model and contributing insights to CoP theories in higher education contexts.


Collaborative writing Scholarship of teaching and learning Social learning Academic development Online communities of practice Digital habitats 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Teaching and Learning Innovation and Faculty of ScienceUniversity of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia
  2. 2.McMaster Institute for Innovation and Excellence in Teaching and LearningMcMaster UniversityHamiltonCanada
  3. 3.Healey HE Consultants and University of GloucestershireGloucesterUK

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