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University Teachers’ Motivation and Experiences of Knowledge Sharing in Higher Education Communities of Practice

Researchers: Dr. Tracy Zou

Funding body: The University of Hong Kong Seed Funding for Basic Research (HKD 112,220)

Timeline: 2015 – 2016

Abstract:
Learning in higher education has changed from an emphasis on formal academic learning to a more participatory and situated mode of learning. The change has an impact on both students and academics. There is a growing number of communities of practice and social groups in higher education. Communities of practice are groups of people with similar interests and concerns meet and interact with one another regularly to advance their knowledge and expertise in that area (Wenger, McDermott, & Snyder, 2002). Such form of communities and social groups is said to be foundations for sharing knowledge and effective change agents in higher education. Communities and social groups have already been existing in higher education for various purposes, for example, enhancing research capabilities among university teachers; improving teaching and learning; and assisting early-career faculty members. A key activity to substantiate the communities is members’ knowledge creation and sharing. To enable continuous and meaningful knowledge creation and sharing within the community, its members’ active participation and willingness to make contributions are critical. A challenge is that university teachers used to work on their research and teaching in a highly independent manner.

This study aims to explore university teachers’ motivation and experiences of knowledge sharing activities in higher education communities of practice. The study examines the following areas: (1) What motivates university teachers to participate (and/or contribute) in knowledge sharing activities in higher education communities of practice? (2) What are their experiences in the knowledge sharing activities? (3) What is the influence of teachers’ backgrounds (e.g., disciplines, years of teaching experiences, gender) on their motivation and experiences? and (4) How do the themes of communities affect teachers’ motivation and experiences?