1) Summarize the focus or problem that the action researcher is tackling in a few sentences.
Mr. Kuhlmann, in his research, focuses on on how he “can instigate activities that build social capital through the development of a community of practice” within his work team. His first cycle of research
was to seek interest in collaboration within his work team. During his assessment of team interest he realized that the personality of his group was disjointed and lacked social connection. In cycle 2, Mr. Kuhlman focused on interviewing the team manager and lead to determine if they supported increased team collaboration. Cycle 3 was focused on team interviews to help determine how the team could become more like a community. It is during this cycle that Mr. Kuhlman realized that his conflation of the concepts of community of practice and work teams created a misapplication of the framework of a community of practice. A fourth cycle describes the launching of a web based Community of Practice revolving around the use of Articulate software.
2) Describe the structure of the review of literature…
How are the studies arranged?
Mr. Kuhlmann arranges the structure of his review of literature with a set of questions that perform two functions: describing a community of practice in terms of form, function identity and value; and answering what interventions or actions can be instigated to nurture or inhibit a community of practice. The structure of his review explains what community of practice is and then provides an examination of variables directly related to Mr. Kuhlman’s research question.
Does it flow well and help you understand what is known about the problem?
I found his defining of community of practices to be structured in a way that allowed me to understand key elements of the concept with enough to detail to give me the knowledge to identify communities of practice that I belong to. He did an excellent job of integrating excerpts from the literature that he researched. Followed by defining of the concept, Mr. Kuhlman moves on to examining his main research interest. I found the structure to be logical and easy to follow.
How would you have organized the studies?
I found that Mr. Kuhlman’s organization matches with how I would have organized similar studies. He start with defining what is a community of study so that the audience understand the desired end state of his action research. He then moves on to define interventions and actions that can be instigated to nurture a community of practice. He identifies what he wants and then he identifies ways to get to what he wants.
3) List the research questions. Do they make sense given the problem? Can you improve on them?
Mr. Kuhlman communicates his purpose and long term goal of his action research in the second paragraph of his paper:
“The purpose of my action research was to investigate my work environment and instigate
activities that build social capital through the development of a community of practice. My long term goal is to either facilitate the activities common to a community of practice, or at least contribute in such a manner that our team increases its capacity to collaborate effectively. Ideally, the end-result of this collaboration will be enhanced team production.”
Cycle 1: Can I generate Interest in collaboration?
My instinct with a Cycle 1 AR question is to conduct a needs assessment of the work team. Instead of asking, “Can I generate interest in collaboration?: I would ask, “What work issues or situations are encountered by my work team that would benefit from collaboration?” Exploring the needs of the work team could have illuminated early on that creating an online forum to spread best practices of software use would have added the most value to his work team as well as other work teams across the company.
Cycle 2:What do the team leaders think about our team collaboration
and where we need to be going?
Changing the Cycle 1 question changes this question. Assuming that Cycle 1 research would have revealed that the most value would be the construction of a forum for the exchange of best practices using certain software, I would have asked a Cycle 2 Question devoted more to the design of the forum: “When participating in a web based Community of Practice Forum, what features would be important to the user?”
Alternatively, let us assume that we are traveling down the path started by the original Cycle 1 question. I would not change the Original Cycle 2 question. Getting feedback from the team leaders is a smart thing to do and helps generate interest, involvement, and support of the action research.
Cycle 3: What do the team members think about our team collaboration
and where we need to be going?
Now that we are traveling down a different path, I think Mr. Kuhlman’s Cycle 4 question becomes the Cycle 3 question.
Alternatively, if we follow the original path, I would build upon the knowledge of prior research uncovered in the literature review: Which of these proven activities that help nurture communities of practice would my team members find most helpful.
Cycle 4:If I build it, will they come?
I would make this the Cycle 3 question. A Cycle 4 questions for me would be, “How can I increase participation in the forum?”