(CS EdX Sessions) Krautloher, Amita

Title: Communities of Practice – a better way for professional development of academics

Presenter: Amita Krautloher (Educational Designer)

Co-presenter(s): Deborah Scheele, Ruth Crawford, Saeed Shaeri, Marie-Louise Craig, and Leigh Ladd

Faculty / Division: DLT

School / Unit:

Session Type: Interactive Discussion

When: Wednesday, 17 November 2021 @ 11:15am – 12:15pm

Where: Zoom meeting link


During the pandemic last year, universities had to transition their teaching and assessments from face-to-face to online in a short period of time. Administering the exams online presented its own challenges. In a bid of improve assessment practice and making it sustainable for online delivery, academics have been looking for ways to develop authentic assessments to enhance student engagement whilst maintaining academic integrity (Bretag et al., 2019).

One such authentic assessment approach trialled at Charles Sturt this year was the Interactive Orals (IOs) (Sotiriadou et al. 2019). This approach has been initiated and popularised by Griffith University. On becoming aware of this approach and the positive outcomes for staff and students, it was decided to initiate a Community of Practice (CoP) (Wenger-Trayner & Wenger-Trayner, 2015), instead of a Professional Development (PD) session, to support academics interested in trying this approach in their subjects. Thus, a CoP was set up towards the end of last year to implement this approach in a range of subjects under the guidance of a mentor, Danielle Logan, from Griffith University. The participants were from across the three faculties as well as DLT. The group met for an hour each week to discuss the subject designs of the subjects involved in the pilot and developed a range of resources to administer the IOs successfully.

The outcomes of this project, as well as the insights of the academics who participated in the project will be discussed and be contrasted with the likely outcomes if the new assessment approach had been introduced only via a PD session (Mercieca, 2017). The appropriateness of using a CoP approach as against a PD session approach will be discussed. The efficiency and synergies achieved via a CoP, with one Educational Designer (ED) supporting several academics, will be used to discuss whether to continue this approach at CSU for improving assessment practice across the board.

Do CoP provide us with an opportunity to make a major shift in assessment approaches rather than individual academics trying to figure it out on their own?

Intended outcomes for participants

Learn how ongoing involvement with a group of peers and a mentor can help inform the ability to trial new assessment approaches in subjects as well as further professional development, and students’ learning. Such ongoing involvement with a multidisciplinary peer group helps develop the Scholarship of Learning and Teaching (SoTL).

  • Conference theme(s)

Co-creation/ Future focussed/ Innovation & Quality

Focus Questions

  • Challenges of improving subject designs/assessments on your own
  • Are the Communities of Practice focussed on assessments a way forward at CSU?


Bretag, T., Harper, R., Burton, M., Ellis, C., Newton, P., Rozenberg, P., Saddiqui, S., & Van Haeringen, K. (2019). Contract cheating: a survey of Australian university  students. Studies in Higher Education, 44(11), 1837–1856. 

Mercieca, B. (2017). What is a Community of Practice? In: J. McDonald, & A. Cater-Steel (Eds.),

Communities of Practice. Springer, Singapore. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-10-2879-3_1 

Sotiriadou, P., Logan, D., Daly, A., & Guest, R. (2019). The role of authentic assessment to

Preserve academic integrity and promote skill development and employability. Studies in Higher Education, 1–17 

Wenger-Trayner, E., & Wenger-Trayner, B. (2015). Communities of practice: A brief

introduction. Retrieved from https://wenger-trayner.com/resources/