Unified Yet Separated - Empirical Study on the Impact of Hierarchical Positions within Communities of Learning

ID: 41541 Type: Full Paper: Conceptual & Empirical Study
  1. Martin Rehm, University Duisburg-Essen, Germany
  2. Wim Gijselaers and Mien Segers, University Maastricht, Netherlands

Tuesday, June 24 1:30 PM-2:00 PM Location: B3116 View on map

Presider: Efrat Pieterse, The Open University of IsraelWestern Galilee College, Israel

Abstract: Communities of Learning (CoL) are suggested to facilitate the co-construction of knowledge among participants of online trainings. Yet, previous studies often detached participants from the social context in which learning took place. The manuscript addresses this shortcoming by providing empirical evidence from 30 CoL of a global organization, where 337 staff members from different hierarchical positions collaboratively enhanced their knowledge via asynchronous discussion forums. The results from four dedicated studies clearly indicate that the higher participants’ hierarchical position, the higher their amount of social and cognitive messages, and the more central their network position within CoL. However, we also identified a group of “Stars” that outperformed their colleagues and who were at the centre of CoL networks, irrespective of their hierarchical positions. Based on these findings, HRD practitioners can better design and facilitate future collaborative learning activities that build upon the strength and weaknesses of all participants.


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