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Social-cognitive outcomes of teachers’ engagement in learning communities

Kjell Brynjulf Hjertø (Business Administration, Hedmark University College, Rena, Norway)
Jan Merok Paulsen (Business Administration, Hedmark University College, Rena, Norway)
Saku Petteri Tihveräinen (Institute of Educational Leadership, University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland)

Journal of Educational Administration

ISSN: 0957-8234

Article publication date: 26 August 2014




The purpose of this paper is to seek to investigate Etienne Wenger's theory of social learning in a community of practice by modeling two simultaneous aspects of teachers’ collaborative learning: their engagement in close-knit internal groupings and engagement with colleagues that work externally to the core group. These two learning processes are related to two social-cognitive outcomes: teachers’ organizational commitment and their sense of impact.


The study investigated a field sample of 246 individual teachers from ten Finnish primary schools. Hypotheses were developed and tested by using multiple regression and structural equation modeling.


The results indicate that local engagement supports teachers’ organizational commitment. However, this form of collaborative learning behavior did not support their sense of impact. Moreover, external engagement with trusted colleagues supported sense of impact but not organizational commitment.

Research limitations/implications

The study reinforces the importance of teachers’ engagement in communities of practice. Specifically, the results suggest two specific social-cognitive outcomes related to two different learning processes situated in teachers’ community of practice. It would be highly valuable to replicate this study in various multi-level settings.

Practical implications

The study highlights teachers’ engagement in communities of practice as a source of their motivational basis and their commitment. Findings recommend school leaders to facilitate internal and external learning communities.


The study provides empirical evidence regarding the partial relationships between teachers’ local and external learning engagement and the social-cognitive outcomes of these forms of learning behaviors.



Brynjulf Hjertø, K., Merok Paulsen, J. and Petteri Tihveräinen, S. (2014), "Social-cognitive outcomes of teachers’ engagement in learning communities", Journal of Educational Administration, Vol. 52 No. 6, pp. 775-791.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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