Good CoPs and bad CoPs: facilitating reform in first-year assessment via a Community of Practice

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Howlett, C, Arthur, M & Ferreira, J 2016, 'Good CoPs and bad CoPs: facilitating reform in first-year assessment via a community of practice', Higher Education Research and Development, vol. 35, no. 4, pp. 741-754.

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The idea and implementation of learning communities are gaining favour in higher education institutions. In particular, there are a number of successful examples to emerge of the application of the Community of Practice (CoP) framework proposed by Wenger [(1998). Communities of practice: Learning, meaning, and identity. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Business School Press] for fostering a learning environment for academics around their teaching practice. In this paper, we describe and reflect on the efficacy of a CoP process that was implemented within our university. The purpose of this CoP was to provide a space for academics to focus on assessment practices for first-year courses and identify opportunities for professional development in this area. For a variety of reasons detailed in the paper, the efficacy of this CoP was limited, and we conclude that in the current higher education environment in Australia, success with CoP approaches to improve learning and teaching outcomes may prove limited.

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