Faculty development using virtual communities of practice

Russell Pimmel, Ann McKenna, Norman L. Fortenberry, Brian Yoder, Rocio C. Chavela Guerra

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

    14 Scopus citations


    A large number of reports from prestigious national organizations, for example, the National Academy's reports on the Engineer of 2020,44, 45 have called for substantial changes in engineering education. Some of this urgency is due to changes in the skills and knowledge that engineering graduates need to deal with the complex, interdisciplinary nature of current engineering problems, as exemplified by the engineering grand challenges identified by the National Academy.46 An additional factor is the change in the engineering student population; for example, the demographics, web experiences, and patience with textbooks and lectures have evolved substantially in the last few decades.14 Finally, recent developments in learning science have shown that engaging, authentic instructional experiences enhance student learning as summarized in the How People Learn framework.4 Certainly, large-scale faculty development efforts will be necessary to accomplish these changes, but the current models for faculty development have had limited impact. The present study explores a new faculty development model that may meet the need for a sustainable, economical, effective approach to support ongoing efforts to advance engineering education. The model builds on the existing face-to-face faculty development models, on the engaging community of practice models, and on the rapidly developing web-based social networking and content management tools. It utilizes virtual communities of practice (VCP) to help faculty members understand and implement research-based instructional approaches. The two goals of the project are: (1) to develop a sustainable VCP model for faculty development that will enable relatively inexperienced faculty members to gain an understanding of research-based instructional approaches and to implement these approaches in their classrooms and (2) to identify VCP best practices by developing approaches for characterizing the operation of VCP implementations and relating these to VCP effectiveness. This paper first summarizes the literature that underlies the VCP approach; then it describes our implementation plans and the early steps we have taken; and finally it outlines plans for collecting and interpreting evaluation data.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Title of host publicationASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
    StatePublished - 2013
    Event120th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition - Atlanta, GA, United States
    Duration: Jun 23 2013Jun 26 2013


    Other120th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition
    Country/TerritoryUnited States
    CityAtlanta, GA

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Engineering(all)


    Dive into the research topics of 'Faculty development using virtual communities of practice'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this