Institutionalizing Faculty Mentoring within a Community of Practice Model

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In higher education, faculty work is typically enacted—and rewarded—on an individual basis. Efforts to promote collaboration run counter to the individual and competitive reward systems that characterize higher education. Mentoring initiatives that promote faculty collaboration and support also defy the structural and cultural norms of higher education. Collaborative mentoring initiatives, however, support all faculty to be lifelong learners. We analyze a reciprocal model of mentoring—a community of practice for mentoring—that integrates collaborative mentoring into faculty's daily work. Additionally, we examine the dilemmas, benefits, and costs of institutionalizing a community of practice model for mentoring in higher education. Our analyses indicate that communities of practice can be fruitful sites of mentoring for all faculty when members mutually engage in shared practices required by the institution. Additionally, such communities nurture relationships and emotional support that sustain engagement in practice and reduce isolation. Given these benefits, we argue that communities of practice should be publically recognized at the institutional level as viable mechanisms for faculty mentoring and learning. Institutions of higher education must explicitly support a campus culture of collaboration and lifelong learning. Findings offer guidance for faculty and center for teaching and learning (CTL) interested in starting or participating in communities of practice.


Copyright 2016 Wiley. A link to full text has been provided.

Publication Title

To Improve the Academy: A Journal of Educational Development

Published Citation

Smith, Emily R., Patricia E. Calderwood, Stephanie Burrell Storms, Paula Gill Lopez, and Ryan P. Colwell. "Institutionalizing Faculty Mentoring within a Community of Practice Model." To Improve the Academy: A Journal of Educational Development 35, no. 1 (January 2016): 35-71. 10.1002/tia2.20033