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Building scholarly communities of practice with an active and collaborative learning pedagogy (team-based learning (TBL))

Faculty of Life Sciences

About the Project

A ‘Community of Practice’ is a group of people who share a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly. They develop a shared repertoire of resources: experiences, stories, tools, ways of addressing recurring problems—in short a shared practice. This takes time and sustained interaction (Wenger, 1998; Wenger-Trayner, 2015). Wenger has defined three modes of belonging to a community of practice (1) Engagement; engaging with others, talking, making things (2) Imagination; the construction of self-image and of the community (3) Alignment; ensuring that individual practices align with other sin the community (Wenger, 2000).

The University of Bradford introduced a new, innovative and highly integrated MPharm programme designed using educational evidence, theory and best practice and delivered predominately by the student-centred learning and teaching strategy TBL (Tweddell, 2013). The Bradford MPharm team was awarded a national Collaborative Award for Teaching Excellence (CATE) by AdvanceHE in 2017 ( This approach requires students to build functioning teams in order to learn from each other and progress on the programme. It is possible that over time these teams effectively become communities of practice that add to the learning experience for students. This project will employ qualitative methodologies to gather new data in order to evaluate whether students are forming communities of practice both within and outside of the classroom as a result of the use of the active teaching, learning and assessment strategies embedded in TBL.

Aim of Study
The aim of this project will be to investigate whether the use of the active learning pedagogy, TBL encourages the development of scholarly communities of practice in students studying for an MPharm degree (Phase 1). Phase 2 will consist of a longitudinal analysis to include students post- graduation, to investigate whether any establishment of communities of practice within the University setting helped with integration into pharmacy practice and its associated communities of practice.

Funding Notes

This is a self-funded PhD project; applicants will be expected to pay their own fees or have a suitable source of third-party funding. A bench fee may also apply to this project, in addition to the tuition fees. UK students may be able to apply for a Doctoral Loan from Student Finance for financial support.


Tweddell, S. (2013) A New Direction for Pharmacy Education. Pharm.J 2013; 291: 645

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