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Learning development and study support an embedded approach through communities of practice

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This article argues for an approach to student support for learning based within the course rather than being solely the responsibility of separate study support units. Although recognizing the importance of such specialist support for individual students, within the current climate in UK education with more students from diverse educational experiences, the responsibility for facilitating study must lie with all tutors. This, it is argued, can be achieved through providing more inclusive participation in learning activities where students are encouraged to undertake responsibilities with the tutors acting as facilitators or guides. Such activities as writing project briefs, organizing learning activities and assessing are normally undertaken by tutors and many students fail to develop an understanding about the work they are required to do in art and design. By viewing learning activities as a community of practice, where more experienced practitioner tutors enable students to participate, they are more likely to develop an identity of belonging, with an associated sense of the meaning of activities within the community of practice in education. This is illustrated through a case study where students organized a project to participate in an international textiles trade fair. The case study is analysed through Wenger's (1998) ideas about the identity of participation.

Keywords: Communities of Practice; learning; participation; study support

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of the Arts London.

Publication date: October 3, 2007

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  • How can art, design and communication aid teaching? Do these teaching methods work better in certain fields of study? Focusing on arts and media-based subjects, and encompassing all areas of higher education, this journal reveals the potential value of new educational styles and creative teaching methods.
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