Contributions to Teaching Practice of an Online Community of Practice of Teachers and Researchers

Margarida Marques
Universidade de Aveiro, Portugal

Maria João Loureiro
Universidade de Aveiro, Portugal

Luís Marques
Universidade de Aveiro, Portugal


Communities of practice (CoP) have the potential to promote teachers’ professional development (PD) and change practices. However, empirical evidence is still scarce. This study aims to contribute to address this shortcoming by analysing an online CoP. A qualitative, descriptive, and exploratory single case study was performed. It focused on both the teaching practice and the CoP’s dynamics of interaction. Data collection included online platform information (statistic data and posts automatically recorded) and documents. Data analysis was based on content analysis and was organized accordingly the Interconnected Model of Teacher Professional Growth that Clarke and Hollingsworth proposed in 2002. The analysis was made on: (a) the external domain and domain of practice of curricular development (CD), in other words, their dynamics of interaction; (b) the domain of the consequences in the teaching practice, regarding the developed science teaching strategies; (c) evidence of their innovative nature; and (d) the principles of curricular development (CD) enacted. The results show that (a) the members’ participation varied during the interaction period and their dynamic fits an adaptation of the stages of development of a CoP proposed by Wenger et al. in 2002, with two cycles of action-research; (b) the CoP developed diverse teaching strategies, usually not explored by teachers, and coherent with commendations in the literature; (c) the teaching practice was innovative, in a challenging way; and (d) the CoP enacted several principles of CD recommended in literature, namely flexibility and differentiation. The empirical results also allowed to validate the dimensions of the Clarke and Hollingsworth’s model, as well as to adapt it to the specificity of the analysed case.

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