On the CUSP (A Community of Usable Scholarly Practice): A Safe Space for Blended Learning and Teaching Discussion, Design and Practice

  • Christopher N. AllanEmail author
  • David Green


In 2017, Griffith Sciences funded a variety of blended learning and teaching initiatives to support the university’s agenda for innovation in learning and teaching and, in particular, blended learning. Noting the literature, it was realised that in order for blended learning to enhance student learning, Griffith Science academics would need a safe space to become aware of the possibilities, the affordances and the challenges of using technology within their classrooms. To support these initiatives, the Griffith Sciences Learning and Teaching team developed a community of usable scholarly practice (the CUSP) that provided the academics technical and pedagogical support (including developing learning designs that could be used by them and others), help with the collection of evaluation data, an environment to showcase their learning and teaching as well as opportunities for feedback and benchmarking with other STEM practitioners. The CUSP became a successful element of the Griffith Sciences informal learning environment. This chapter showcases the types of community meetings and the benefits of community in implementing innovation.


Community of practice Blended learning Personal learning environment Informal learning Higher education Design-based research PebblePad 


  1. Bernstein-Sierra, S., & Kezar, A. (2017). Identifying and overcoming challenges in STEM reform: A study of four National STEM reform communities of practice. Innovative Higher Education, 42(5–6), 407–420.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Boud, D., & Middleton, H. (2003). Learning from others at work: Communities of practice and informal learning. Journal of Workplace Learning, 15(5), 194–202. Scholar
  3. Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3(2), 77–101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Brownell, S. E., & Tanner, K. D. (2012). Barriers to faculty pedagogical change: Lack of training, time, incentives, and … tensions with professional identity? CBE-Life Sciences Education, 11(4), 339–346. Scholar
  5. Dancy, M., Henderson, C., & Turpen, C. (2016). How faculty learn about and implement research-based instructional strategies: The case of peer instruction. Physical Review Physics Education Research, 12(1).
  6. Gehrke, S., & Kezar, A. (2016). STEM reform outcomes through communities of transformation. Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, 48(1), 30–38. Scholar
  7. Guba, E. G. (1981). Criteria for assessing the trustworthiness of naturalistic inquiries. Educational Communication and Technology, 29(2), 75–91. Scholar
  8. Hains-Wesson, R., & Tytler, R. (2015). A perspective on supporting STEM academics with blended learning at an Australian university. Issues in Educational Research, 25(4), 460–479.Google Scholar
  9. Kezar, A., Gehrke, S., & Bernstein-Sierra, S. (2017). Designing for success in STEM communities of practice: Philosophy and personal interactions. The Review of Higher Education, 40(2), 217–244. Scholar
  10. Krockover, G., Adams, P., Eichinger, D., Nakhleh, M., & Shepardson, D. (2001). Action-based research teams: Collaborating to improve science instruction. Journal of College Science Teaching, 30(5), 313–317.Google Scholar
  11. Landrum, R. E., Viskupic, K., Shadle, S. E., & Bullock, D. (2017). Assessing the STEM landscape: The current instructional climate survey and the evidence-based instructional practices adoption scale. International Journal of STEM Education, 4(1), 1–10. Scholar
  12. Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Lee, J. C.-K., Zhang, Z., & Yin, H. (2011). A multilevel analysis of the impact of a professional learning community, faculty trust in colleagues and collective efficacy on teacher commitment to students. Teaching and Teacher Education, 27(5), 820–830. Scholar
  14. Manduca, C. A., Iverson, E. R., Luxenberg, M., Macdonald, R. H., McConnell, D. A., Mogk, D. W., & Tewksbury, B. J. (2017). Improving undergraduate STEM education: The efficacy of discipline-based professional development. Science Advances, 3(2). Scholar
  15. Sánchez-Cardona, I., Sánchez-Lugo, J., & VŽlez-González, J. (2012). Exploring the potential of communities of practice for learning and collaboration in a higher education context. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 46, 1820–1825. Scholar
  16. Shenton, A. K. (2004). Strategies for ensuring trustworthiness in qualitative research projects. Education for Information, 22(2), 63–75. Scholar
  17. Stoll, L., Bolam, R., McMahon, A., Wallace, M., & Thomas, S. (2006). Professional learning communities: A review of the literature. Journal of Educational Change, 7(4), 221–258. Scholar
  18. Sunal, D. W., Hodges, J., Sunal, C. S., Whitaker, K. W., Freeman, L. M., Edwards, L., … Odell, M. (2001). Teaching science in higher education: Faculty professional development and barriers to change. School Science and Mathematics, 101(5), 246-257. Scholar
  19. Vescio, V., Ross, D., & Adams, A. (2008). A review of research on the impact of professional learning communities on teaching practice and student learning. Teaching and Teacher Education, 24(1), 80–91. Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Office of the PVC (Griffith Sciences)Griffith UniversitySouthportAustralia

Personalised recommendations