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Fundamental Principles of Sound Research

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Doctoral Learning and Communities of Practice
According to Reynolds and Herbert (1998), cohort learning provides learners with the opportunity for ongoing and supportive interaction between peers, between learners and facilitators, and between learners and the larger community. As members of a cohort uncover new ideas and understanding, their dialogue increases, diversifies, validates, and assures understanding. Although individuals often require time alone to think and reflect, learning in a cohort environment keeps individuals engaged and inspired to learn. Cohort communities encourage camaraderie, build learner confidence, and challenge individuals to strengthen and apply their critical thinking skills.
Doctoral learning differs from learning at the bachelor’s or master’s levels. Doctoral learning in general, and doctoral writing in particular, requires the integration of feedback and dialogue to formulate scholarly thought. Doctoral faculty often insist that doctoral learners may not rely upon personal opinion when reaching conclusions. Rather, learners must support their ideas and opinions with scholarly evidence and be able to generalize their findings. As previously stated, one way to advance scholarly thought is through interaction in a learning cohort. Another way to advance scholarly thought includes reading scholarly (peer-reviewed) publications and supporting ideas with citations from these publications. Another way to promote scholarly thought is to participate in a community of practice.
According to Wenger, McDermott, and Snyder (2002), a community of practice is a group of individuals with a shared quest and interests, who interact regularly to improve their learning. A community of practice is not simply a group of individuals with surface commonality: people who share the same taste in music or like the same type of movies have. Members of a…...

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