Community of Practice Among Faculty Team-Teaching Education Doctorate (Ed.D.) Students: A Reflective Study

Christopher M Clark, Kate Olson, Ozge Hacifazlioglu, David L Carlson
International Journal of Doctoral Studies  •  Volume 16  •  2021  •  pp. 379-393

The purpose of the study was to contribute to knowledge about the ways in which incorporating a Community of Practice into doctoral seminar teaching and course management could be a practical and sustainable path to professional development for doctoral faculty aspiring to become stewards of the practice of teaching.

This report documents a reflective self-study conducted by four professors engaged in a community of practice while team-teaching a linked pair of EdD seminars on action research at Arizona State University.

This reflective study used field notes and written reflections as its sources of data to examine how participants’ identities as professors of education changed during and after participating in a team-taught professional doctoral pair of courses.

An important goal of the community of practice was to promote faculty professional development as stewards of the practice of teaching. Engaging in disciplined reflection on teaching is uncommon in American graduate education and rarely documented in the literature of post-compulsory education.

Analysis of post-hoc reflective accounts and contemporaneous notes revealed a general pattern of gradual transformation by the teaching team members. The professors moved from anxious concern about appearing competent to growing confidence and appreciation for the potential of a community of practice to provide significant professional benefits to students and faculty. Salutary features of reflective team teaching in a community of practice persist in participants’ subsequent teaching practice.

Reported benefits include eagerness for team teaching, increased openness to pedagogical suggestions from peers, comfort with being observed by colleagues while teaching, and willingness to revise plans when initial plans and practices are not working effectively for students.

Data analysis and testimony support the claim that engaging in a CoP, in this case, did support their identity transformation as stewards of their own practice as instructors and professors of education. However, the study design does not support a claim that most or all future Communities of Practice in doctoral education will produce similar salutary results. Testing this proposition will require additional research in settings and programs different from the one represented here.

Implementing communities of practice in doctoral programs can make room for professional development for both the faculty team and for the students.

Further studies could be conducted to document the ways in which other communities of practice can be used to develop faculty instructors in masters and doctoral programs and in undergraduate education.

community of practice, stewards of practice, team teaching, doctoral seminar, reflective self-study, systematic reflection
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