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Facilitating factors in cultivating diverse online communities of practice: a case of international teaching assistants during the COVID-19 crisis

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

E-pub ahead of print
  • T. McLaughlan
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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>8/01/2021
<mark>Journal</mark>International Journal of Information and Learning Technology
Publication StatusE-pub ahead of print
Early online date8/01/21
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

Purpose: This study aims to identify facilitating factors in cultivating a linguistically and culturally diverse virtual Community of Practice (CoP) and techniques in tailoring such support for international graduate teaching assistants (ITAs) at a US university while assessing indications for ITAs' self-perceptions in four key areas: social connectedness, confidence teaching in English, pedagogical support and self-efficacy in teaching. Design/methodology/approach: This mixed-methods case study qualitatively analyzes open-ended responses utilizing a Grounded Action Research approach along with follow-up interviews of ITAs. Quantitative measures of key perception areas between three “Experience Groups” were conducted to identify potential correlations with involvement in the CoP. Findings: Calculations using the Kruskal–Wallis test of differences yielded no statistically significant results. However, qualitative analyses highlight ITAs' needs, classified into four general concepts and 16 specific core categories. Evaluation of CoP communications suggests COVID-19 and a sudden transition to online teaching represented recognizable shared problems that invigorated the CoP and overshadowed diversity-related factors. Research limitations/implications: These findings have implications for culturally and linguistically diverse CoPs and particularly for ITA training programs worldwide, allowing universities to enhance support of ITAs and bolster development of undergraduate programs especially during times of crisis and transitions to online learning. Originality/value: The first study to investigate an international, multilingual ITA population in a virtual CoP regardless of academic discipline, this contributes by addressing several common CoP criticisms, including cultivation in distributed contexts and in further guiding expectations for its adoption into culturally and linguistically diverse communities. © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited.

Bibliographic note

This article is (c) Emerald Group Publishing and permission has been granted for this version to appear here. Emerald does not grant permission for this article to be further copied/distributed or hosted elsewhere without the express permission from Emerald Group Publishing Limited.