Communities of Practice: FAQ

Communities of Practice FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Community of Practice?
Etienne Wenger (1991) described Communities of Practice as “groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do, and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly.” This shared passion is at the heart of a Community of Practice.
Who can join or create a Community of Practice?

The Community of Practice program is primarily comprised of full-time and adjunct faculty, but there are some groups for which including other relevant staff members is appropriate.

Why should I join or create a Community of Practice?
A Community of Practice will enable you to collaborate with other faculty, providing support and learning opportunities to enhance teaching practice. Participation builds shared understanding of important topics and facilitates action in support of student engagement, while creating a greater sense of community across the campus.
What will I do in a Community of Practice?
Participants commit to a year of membership in the community of practice, with meeting times and goals set by the community itself.   Members will develop individual or group projects that can be utilized in their teaching, along with a plan for assessing their projects and for sharing them with the wider faculty and staff community.
How much time will participation require?

The Community of Practice groups themselves will determine meeting schedules and structure. Participation is intended to be intellectually rigorous, but have the flexibility to fit into faculty schedules. Communities of Practice generally meet every 3-4 weeks for 1.5-2 hours; some meet more frequently depending on the scope of their work and availability.

What kind of funding is available for each of the groups?
Professional development funds to support shared learning, such as travel to conferences, expenses for speakers or trainers, or the creation of new materials, will be available to participants. Funding will be awarded based on the action plan developed by the Community of Practice to accomplish its learning goals and plans for implementation.
Will this count toward tenure and promotion?
As an Academy-sponsored program, Communities of Practice are recognized as a rigorous form of faculty development. Participation should be noted on Form 1 in the same way as any other professional development activity.
Will CEUs or GECs be awarded for participation?

CEUs are offered for workshops that CoPs schedule with the Academy, whether one of our pre-designed offerings or a custom workshop and for participation in the annual Share-ousel in which CoPs give and receive feedback on their work.

How can I join or start a Community of Practice?

Visit the Join or Start a Community of Practice page and fill out our interest form. You may also contact the Academy for Teaching Excellence at or you can call the Chair of the Academy at ext. 6174.