Date of Award

8-2019

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

English

First Advisor

Gian S. Pagnucci

Second Advisor

Gloria Park

Third Advisor

Michele L. Petrucci

Abstract

This qualitative content analysis examined a virtual community of practice associated with Intensive English Programs: The Intensive English Program Virtual Community (IEPVC). A typology for virtual communities of practice (Dubé, Bourhis, and Jacob, 2006) was used to examine the characteristics of the virtual community of practice. The IEPVC represents an active virtual community that provides information to its members, provides opportunities for members to share information, and advocates for the field of Intensive English Programs within the United States. The results of the study demonstrated that the IEPVC does represent the three main concepts of a community of practice: domain, community, and practice (Lave & Wenger, 1991; Wenger, 1998).

The study wanted to better understand what topics related to Intensive English Program administration were presented in the IEPVC and member perceptions of those topics; what participation tools were provided by the IEPVC and member perceptions of those tools; how members perceive their participation within the VCoP; and how members perceive their utilization of the IEPVC. The content analysis observed 254 artifacts within the virtual community, including webpages, presentations, word documents, and webinars. To better understand member perceptions of the virtual community of practice, the study collected responses from forty-two surveys and seven interviews.

Some key findings regarding member participation include:

• Boundaries and Brokers: Some members belong to multiple organizations and members invite others to join the IEPVC.

• Brand awareness: Some members recognize that their brand or university needs to be represented appropriately and positively.

• Competition: Members recognized that all Intensive English Programs are competing for a small group of potential students yet still are collegiate and show comradery.

• Knowledge Hoarding: Some members are resistant to share information because they feel that other members are not contributing enough.

• Privacy: Some members are resistant to share information due to lack of anonymity within the IEPVC.

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