Becoming a Member of a Community of Practice: Postgraduate Researcher Literacy Development in a UK University

  • Katie DunworthEmail author
  • Faisal Al Saidi
Part of the Multilingual Education book series (MULT, volume 30)


This chapter draws on the concept of communities of practice as described by Wenger (Communities of practice: learning, meaning, and identity. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1998; Communities of practice and social learning systems: the career of a concept. In: C Blackmore (ed) Social learning systems and communities of practice. The Open University, Milton Keynes, pp 179–198, 2010) to examine a doctoral researcher’s written literacy development through interaction with his supervisor. The term community of practice is used here to describe a group of individuals who are mutually engaged in a joint enterprise who share a repertoire of knowledge, activities and discourses. Membership comes into being through participation, interaction, and negotiated meaning: a situated process of identity construction (Ewing Discourse and the construction of identity in a community of learning and a community of practice. In: T Stehlik, P Carden (eds), Beyond communities of practice: theory as experience. Post Pressed, Upper Mount Gravatt, pp 149–170, 2005). Two key elements of a community of practice are participation and reification; these two elements are explored in detail in this chapter through the concept of feedback, where feedback is understood not as a form of output produced by a provider and transmitted to a receiver but as a social, situated process which is not complete until an initial input is engaged with and transformed (Dunworth, K., & Sanchez, H. H. (2016). Perceptions of quality in staff-student written feedback in higher education: A case study. Teaching in Higher Education, 21(5), 576–589). The chapter explores this process of contestation and negotiation which is part of the development of a member-as-writer within a community of practice.


Community of practice Postgraduate researcher Higher education Literacy development Writing a thesis Postgraduate supervision 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EducationUniversity of BathBathUK

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