Mentoring and Support for New Faculty: Enhancing Social Capital Using Communities of Practice


  • Susanne Morgan Ithaca College Author


Faculty development professionals are increasingly using groups as a valuable extension of the traditional dyad relationship in mentoring new faculty. Many have developed faculty learning communities, and recently, faculty developers have used the communities of practice model from business organizations to contribute nuance and analysis to the discussion. The author explores the principles of communities of practice in the context of faculty mentoring programs, integrating the existing literature. She uses Wenger’s categories of activities of communities of practice, illustrating them with comments from faculty mentoring groups. The article’s major addition to this discussion is Putnam’s concept of social capital, which furthers understanding about what community involves and how specific strategies benefit both individuals and institutions. A case study of a group mentoring program at Ithaca College applies an analysis of social capital to investigate this intentional community of practice.