Students’ Identities and its Relationships with their Engagement in an Online Learning Community
Keywords:Communities of practice, social learning, motivation, tertiary education, identities.
Abstract—Communities of practice’ approaches have been proven to be effective in enhancing students’ learning as well as helping them to cultivate inter-personal skills, especially within the higher education system. An important development in relation to participation in communities of practice is members’ identities. This study was conducted with the aim of understanding students’ identities in relation to their participation in an online community and how the dimensions of their identities correlated to each other. The research par-ticipants were 123 first-year students who were involved in collaborative sharing activities via an online community, using Weebly. Data was collected using a set of questionnaires that discussed four main dimen-sions of identities: personal, professional, as learners, and as members of communities. Data was analysed using SPSS version 22. The overall findings offer a detailed description of students’ identities. A high posi-tive correlation was found between students’ prior knowledge and their motivation, commitment and beliefs with regard to the benefits of online communities. The only dimension of students’ identities that lacked cor-relation with other dimensions was students’ openness. The findings highlight the importance of understand-ing different aspects of identities and how this helps to enhance engagement in online communities. The findings are significant in terms of establishing a deeper understanding on learning process within a social learning theory.
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