Communities of practice in health and risk messaging

Nicola Andrew

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


A Community of Practice (CoP) is an approach to professional learning and development based on collaboration among peers. In a CoP individuals come together virtually or physically and coalesce around a common purpose. CoPs are defined by knowledge rather than task and provide a safe space for novices and experienced practitioners to collaborate, construct and embed sustainable outputs that impact on both theory and practice development (Wenger et al 2002).

CoPs provide a framework for constructing authentic and collaborative learning. Jeanne Lave and Etienne Wenger (1991) are credited with the original description of a CoP as an approach to learning that encompasses elements of identity, situation and active participation. CoPs blend a constructivist view of learning, where meaningful experience is set in the context of ‘self’ and the relationship of ‘self’ with the wider professional community. The result is an integrated approach to learning and development achieved through a combination of social engagement and collaborative working in an authentic practice environment.

In health and education CoPs blend theory and practice to create a portal for practitioners to generate, shape, test and evaluate new ideas and innovations. CoPs learn through the act of social participation; active group learning and collaboration in an authentic practice environment. Membership of a CoP supports the development of professional identity within a wider vocational sphere.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Encyclopedia of Health and Risk Message Design and Processing
EditorsRoxanne Parrott
PublisherOxford University Press (OUP)
ISBN (Electronic)9780190455385
ISBN (Print)9780190455378
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018


  • communities of practice
  • professional identity
  • peer supported learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Professions(all)


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