Paper No. 83-5
Presentation Time: 9:05 AM
BUILDING A COMMUNITY OF PRACTICE AMONG GEOSCIENCE TWO-YEAR COLLEGE FACULTY: A FRAMEWORK TO SUPPORT INDIVIDUAL LEARNING AND COLLECTIVE CHANGE
Recent studies of change in higher education focus on the role of communities of practice (COP) (Gehrke and Kezar, 2016; Kastens and Manduca, 2017; Rees and Shaw, 2014). Communities of Practice are comprised of people who share an interest (e.g., geoscience teaching) and learn about how to do it better through regular interactions (Lave and Wenger, 1992). We adapted the CoP theoretical framework to examine change related to a professional development (PD) program and to guide survey methodologies. The NSF-funded project, Faculty as Change Agents: Transforming Geoscience Education in Two-Year Colleges (SAGE 2YC) centers on a PD program that empowers two-year college geoscience faculty Change Agents (CAs) to make changes to their practice in supporting the success of all students, broadening participation, and facilitating students’ career pathways, and to promote such changes at their institution and in their region. SAGE 2YC equips CAs through programmatic activities and a community involving 17 regional teams of two to three CAs at 20 two-year colleges to make changes at individual, program, institution, and regional levels. The CoP formed by the CAs supports their ability to make these changes as they engage colleagues on campus and in their region. Our CoP analysis compared responses by CAs and regional workshop participants to those of geoscience faculty who participated in the 2016 National Geoscience Faculty Survey established by On the Cutting Edge. Respondents were first asked, "To what extent do you consider yourself part of a community of geoscience educators that shares your goals, philosophy, and values for geoscience?" Then, respondents were asked "In which of the following ways do you interact with this community?" and could check up to five behaviors related to CoP interactions (e.g., provide resources to other community members, engage in deep two-way conversation to support educational work). SAGE 2YC CAs and regional workshop participants more frequently reported interacting with their community using these behaviors than other comparable groups within the national survey response. Qualitative responses revealed that SAGE 2YC respondents valued time and space for dialogue with CoP members, identified multiple connections within their CoP, and were deeply committed to improving practices.