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Cultivating A Community Of Practice In Engineering Education

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Building New Communities

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.379.1 - 10.379.8



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Paper Authors

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Yifat Kolikant

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Bugrahan Yalvac

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Ann McKenna

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Cultivating a Community of Practice in Engineering Education

Yifat Ben-David Kolikant1, Ann F. McKenna2, Bugrahan Yalvac1 1 The VaNTH Engineering Research Center in Bioengineering Educational Technologies/Robert R. McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science2, Northwestern University


Over the past several years, as part of an NSF supported engineering research center, we have worked in cross-disciplinary teams to enhance learning and instruction in the field of biomedical engineering education. Our collaboration involved working with faculty and consultants with expertise in learning science, assessment and evaluation, learning technology, and engineering. As cross-disciplinary teams we worked together to identify learning goals, develop new instructional materials that embody modern theories of learning, and implement appropriate formative and summative assessment plans to monitor our progress and make continuous improvements. In this paper we identify and organize the knowledge that arose from our collaborative process, and discuss the process that emerged as we formed an effective community of practice.


We used the principles of the How People Learn (HPL) framework to guide our instructional design and collaboration1. The HPL framework suggests that an effective learning environment should be (a) learner-centered, (b) knowledge-centered, (c) assessment-centered, and (d) community-centered. In this study, we examine how the HPL framework guided our process of working together to develop course materials, and characterize social processes that emerged and contributed to cultivating a community of diverse practitioners with the shared enterprise of improving instruction. Specifically, we describe how the practitioners bridged these diverse communities, and how they developed a shared language, common goals, and mutual resources/capabilities.

In contrast to curricula design in K-12 education, our cross-disciplinary collaboration presented unique challenges and opportunities. In K-12, those who collaborate to develop teaching materials and instructional methods usually possess sufficient understanding of the subject matter. That is, both the teachers and learning scientists (or educational researchers) understand the subject matter such that all collaborators can develop learning and assessment materials, and evaluate and interpret student responses. In our work the teachers (faculty) possess domain expertise acquired through advanced graduate study, research, and years of practical experience. In this sense, the subject matter in higher education is taught at a level beyond the general understanding typically possessed by a learning scientist.

Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education

Kolikant, Y., & Yalvac, B., & McKenna, A. (2005, June), Cultivating A Community Of Practice In Engineering Education Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--15482

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