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Brenda Keis and Melinda Dewsbury “No Size Fits All” Trinity Western University, May 2, 2014 Complexity within our Walls and Shoring up Foundations.

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Presentation on theme: "Brenda Keis and Melinda Dewsbury “No Size Fits All” Trinity Western University, May 2, 2014 Complexity within our Walls and Shoring up Foundations."— Presentation transcript:

1 Brenda Keis and Melinda Dewsbury “No Size Fits All” Trinity Western University, May 2, 2014 Complexity within our Walls and Shoring up Foundations

2 University as a “Community of Practice” (CoP) Concept developed by Jean Lave (anthropologist) and Etienne Wenger (social education theorist) in the 1990s.

3 Definition [I]t identifies a social grouping not [by] virtue of shared abstract characteristics (e.g. class, gender) or simple co- presence (e.g. neighborhood, workplace), but [by] virtue of shared practice. In the course of regular joint activity, a community of practice develops ways of dong things, views, values, power relations, ways of talking. (Eckert, 2006)

4 Principles of a CoP “The domain” – must be shared “The Community” – interactive and participatory “The practice” – shared resources for learning and problem- solving (Wenger, 1998) What are your Communities of Practice?

5 “Conventionalization of Meaning” A community of practice engages people in mutual sense- making – about the enterprise they’re engaged in, about their respective forms of participation in the enterprise, about their orientation to other communities of practice and to the world around them more generally…. [I]t is based in a commitment to mutual engagement, and to mutual understanding of that engagement. (Eckert, 2006)

6 Identity formation Wenger sees learning as social participation – and that identity is built at the same time through interacting with others, through being a participant or contributor in meaning-making Why is participation so powerful? What have you tried to encourage participation? Has it been successful?

7 “Situated learning” Situated learning – that newcomers must undergo a process before they become experts in the community, called “legitimate peripheral participation” (Lave & Wenger, 1991). Students starting university want to become a full participant but they have to go through cultural adaptation first. They need to know this and expect to be “peripheral.”

8 University as Culture Just as people experience displacement and culture shock when changing countries and cultures, so, too, students experience these same emotions as they move from high school to university and become “newcomers” Their sense of identity is often fragile as they feel this displacement and seek belongingness. This can impact participation and willingness to take risks.

9 Need “to know and be known” University students often feel isolated and alone. The sense that they know no one and no one knows them can impact their adjustment to university culture. In your contexts, how can you help to reduce this kind of isolation and facilitate movement out of the periphery and into belongingness?

10 TWU’s attempts Freshman Academy and UT1 Year programs Cohort-based education One contact person (relationship-building) Weekly appointments Frequent communication about university opportunities and events Success Centre Student Life programs

11 Learned aspects of university culture How to find your way around Who to go to for what Policies and processes The role of the professors – what to expect The role of the students – responsibilities and limitations Assignments – amount of time invested, amount of work, level of work, many different kinds of assignments, different grading practices Social environment

12 Cultural Values Cultural conventions – intellectual property, value of inquiry, value of independent thinking, availability of professors, collegiality Cultural faux pas – plagiarism and other forms of dishonesty, sending demanding s to professors, expecting the professors and staff to fix problems, expecting to get whatever they want

13 Other personal complications In addition to learning how to become a part of the university “community of practice” and finding their own identity, students sometimes struggle due to personal crises: Health and injuries Parental divorce and family breakdowns Relationship problems Mental health

14 How do we respond? When students feel that they are known and they have a relationship of trust with a faculty or staff member, they are much more likely to be able to talk and seek help. Resources are one thing, but feeling empowered to use the resources is another.

15 Other factors in success Brenda will now talk more specifically about what happens academically when the students come into this university culture.

16 References Eckert, P. (2006). Communities of Practice. Stanford University. Retrieved from Lave, J. & Wenger, E. (1991) Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. Wenger, E. (n.d.). Communities of Practice: A Brief Introduction. Wenger-Trayner. Retrieved from Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of practice: Learning, meaning, and identity. Cambridge: Cambridge UP.


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