Facilitating learning in practice
Facilitating learning in practice

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Facilitating learning in practice

4 Communities of practice

The focus of this final section of learning and teaching is on communities of practice (CoPs), which involve a group of individuals who share beliefs and expertise, and work collaboratively to improve teaching skills and academic performance. CoPs (Figure 7) emphasise how communities learn outside of the formal setting as they share stories and best practice.

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Figure 7 Communities of practice

Activity 9 Communities of practice

Allow 40 minutes

Read pages 248–51 of ‘Building on Wenger: communities of practice in nursing’ [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] , an extract from an article by Andrew et al. (2008).

Consider how you could use the ideas from the extract to introduce a CoP in your setting. Identify who you would include as the members of your CoP, and how this CoP can develop and manage new knowledge and emerging practice.


This extract produces a framework that builds on the work of Wenger (1998, 2002) and espouses the usefulness of CoPs in promoting informal professional learning when embedded in the workplace. These CoPs are usually time-limited and thrive or die depending on member engagement. They have the potential to allow practitioners and academics to collaborate to challenge and change practice.

Andrew et al. (2008) reveal that the literature is critical of Wenger’s approach, because he firmly believed that CoPs could evolve anywhere because of individuals’ shared interest, including community development – this is perceived in reality as a simplistic and unrealistic answer to a complex issue.

Mentorship programme

If you are studying towards an NMC mentor qualification, you might like to discuss Activity 9 with your supervisor and record your ideas, which can be used as evidence in your portfolio.


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