Open Access
Draper, Darryl C
Graduate Program:
Instructional Systems
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
April 05, 2010
Committee Members:
  • Susan Mary Land, Dissertation Advisor
  • Dr Susan Land, Committee Chair
  • Roy Clariana, Committee Member
  • John David Popp, Committee Member
  • Dr Brian Smith, Committee Member
  • communities of practice
  • e-learning
  • knowledge convergence
  • case-based instruction
The purpose of this study was to develop and test an online community of practice learning environment that incorporates specific knowledge building principles to promote knowledge convergence and to reify tacit knowledge through storytelling, shared work related experiences and ideas through online discussions, and to develop best practices that will increase job performance and customer survey scores. Specifically, this study investigated the effectiveness of a knowledge-building community of practice learning environment on job-related knowledge, convergence, and on-the-job performance of study subjects. A community of practice is defined as a group of individuals who share experiences, learn together, and engage in regular interaction though discussion and knowledge sharing activities relevant to their domain. Through interaction, individuals influence one another to engage in the knowledge convergence process. It was anticipated that learners in the knowledge-based community of practice learning environment would have a higher level of knowledge convergence than the self-paced learning environment. This study employed a sample selected from 61 dealership Service Advisors. The study was designed to examine learning within an authentic, contextually rich, real-world environment. Because the experimental groups were self-selected, a quasi-experimental study was used. The independent variables were the self-paced online course and the online knowledge based CoP learning environment. The self-paced online learning environment presented the course content without student or instructor interaction. The CoP learning environment contents were identical to the self-paced course however; they contained actual customer-based scenarios in the form of discussion questions for students and instructor to interact. The dependent variables were the pre and posttests, essay assessments, and customer survey scores. The statistical analysis of the pretest posttest results for the two groups indicated significantly better scores in the knowledge-based community of practice learning environment. Analysis of essay assessment responses confirmed a higher-level knowledge convergence in the knowledge based community of practice learning environment. The results of this study suggest that knowledge convergence occurred in both environments; however, participants in the knowledge-based community of practice experienced a higher level of knowledge convergence. This result suggested that collaboration and sharing common knowledge in a community of practice promotes knowledge convergence.