Mentoring novice researchers in higher education: a 'communities of practice' perspective


Communities Of Practice
Constructivist Learning
Higher Education
Research Development
Situated Learning


This article reports on the mentoring of novice researchers, in particular of women and black academics, at a South African higher education institution. The model used for mentoring was informed by a “communities of practice” perspective which used situated and constructivist learning theories as a conceptual framework. One mentor and eleven protégés were involved. The protégés were divided into three groups of two, four and five participants each. Each group functioned as a community of practice (CoP) and embarked on a research project of its own choice. The purpose of the study was to evaluate the mentoring model, and therefore it explains the participants’ views of their learning and development from a CoP per-spective. Data were collected by means of interviews and observation. The findings indicate how the development of the protégés from legitimate peripheral to more central participation was influenced by the university context, activities and rela-tionships in each CoP, and participants’ individual dispositions. Recommendations to improve the model and for further study are made.

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