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Improving Assessment Through Communities of Practice
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Improving Assessment Through Communities of Practice


This presentation describes how several institutions for higher education in the Chicago area improved their assessment efforts by creating a Community of Practice with other assessment colleagues …

This presentation describes how several institutions for higher education in the Chicago area improved their assessment efforts by creating a Community of Practice with other assessment colleagues from different institutions in the area.

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  • 1. Jen Sweet; University of Illinois at Chicago Shannon Milligan; Loyola University, Chicago Carol Scheidenhelm; Loyola University, Chicago
  • 2. Define Communities of Practice Discuss Benefits of Communities of Practice Explore how to Establish Communities of Practice Present an example of a successful Community of Practice Provide Time for Discussion/Questions with a successful Community of Practice
  • 3. “Groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and how to do it better as they interact regularly.” (Wenger, 2006) “Groups whose members regularly engage in sharing and learning, based on common interests.” (Lesser & Storck, 2001)
  • 4. Groups of Practitioners Shared Interests Regular Interaction Exchange of knowledge, ideas, best practices, etc. Professional Development Determine Best Practices Solve Common or Related Problems Encourage Innovation in the Field Facilitate the Development of Professional Networks/Support Systems
  • 5. Sharing Knowledge, Ideas, Problems, etc. Discussing Best Practices Organizing Site Visits/Outreach Activities Engaging in Problem Solving Seeking Expertise Discussing Developments in the Field Conducting Networking Events Commiserating
  • 6. Decrease learning curve of new professionals Encourage innovation and reduce redundancy (“reinventing the wheel”) Provide individuals with a sense of identity Increase knowledge base, both individually and collectively Connect members with other assessment professionals Provide a professional support system for assessment practitioners
  • 7. Identify a person or group willing to assume a leadership role Establish a reliable mode of regular communication Create a schedule for regular communication among group members Recruit other practitioners Ensure everyone is “equal” Determine the needs of the group members
  • 8. Meetings hold less frequently conduct remotely (webinars, live broadcasting, phone conferencing, real time chat, etc.) rotate locations Arrange to meet a professional events, such as conferences. Information Sharing websites Wikis listservs online discussion boards online social networking sites, such as facebook
  • 9. Meet regularly Have a core of interested people and distribute the workload, as this lends to a sense of ownership in the community Leave competition between institutions at the door and recognize how collaboration benefits each institution. The collaboration lends to support and the differences in institutions bolsters sharing of new perspectives and ideas Look to existing communities of practice, especially any that are nearby, for advice and best practices Having a group of people rather than just one person enriches the community due to the multiple perspectives that are offered. **Thank you to SLATE and CAFDN for providing feedback for this presentation **
  • 10. Chicago Area Assessment Group Mission: to advance understanding of assessment and its impact on college and university planning and effectiveness. Goal: to serve as a professional peer group that provides a forum for sharing best practices, soliciting feedback and creating an open dialogue for gathering information and thinking through ideas.
  • 11. January 2008: Higher Learning Commission Workshop Representatives from area institutions worked in groups Identified the lack of community in supporting quality assessment information and practice Meetings: Initial gathering: April 2008 Bi-Monthly meetings at rotating campuses across the city
  • 12. Started and maintained by assessment individuals, not an institution or company. We have no budget, no “home” institution. All organizational activity is volunteer. Members work together to select topics, arrange speakers, host meetings. Materials and resources are shared through a wiki managed by the group.
  • 13. Brown, J. S., & Duguid, P. (1991). Organizational learning and communities-of-practice: Toward a unified view of working, learning, and innovation. Organization Science 2(1). Retrieved from Lesser, E. L., & Storck, J. (2001). Communities of practice and organizational performance. IBM Systems Journal, 40(4). Retrieved from nce.pdf McClure Wasko, M. & Faraj, S. (2000). “It is what one does”: Why people participate and help others in communities of practice. Journal of Strategic Information Systems, 9(2-3). Retrieved from 41V34374&_user=8321500&_coverDate=09%2F30%2F2000&_rdoc=1&_fmt=high&_orig=s earch&origin=search&_sort=d&_docanchor=&view=c&_searchStrId=1519477095&_rerun Origin=google&_acct=C000029125&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=8321500& md5=6ba5d52112abb676c30af0e4d53dffcb&searchtype=a Pina, A. A., Sadowski, K. P., Scheidenhelm, C. L., & Heydenburg, P. R. (2008). SLATE: A community of practice for supporting learning and technology in education. International Journal of Instructional Technology & Distance Learning, 5(7). Retrieved from Suave, E. (2007). Informal knowledge transfer. Training+Development, 61(3), 22-24. Wenger, E. (2006). Communities of practice: A brief introduction. Retrieved from