Shifting participation in a cycling community of practice and its effects on newcomer's access to resources for learning

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Victor Lee


Sociocultural researchers view learning as shifting participation in the practices of a community. To learn in this view is to navigate pathways of participation that either lead toward full participation in the community or that remain peripheral to the community. For newcomers to transition to full participation they must have access to the social and material resources of the community. As these newcomers become full participants, they help reshape the community's goals and how resources are made available to newcomers. This presentation investigates, by way of descriptive case study of an adult cycling group, how shifting membership affected newcomers' opportunities for participation. Using data gathered over a six-month observation period and a series of clinical interviews, I identified the knowledge and ability to draft as a gateway resource that novices needed to master in order to access the wider breadth of the community's resources. As membership changed, group goals changed, and providing novices access to drafting resources was no longer a priority. This shift limited existing and future novices' pathways for participation and learning. This presentation helps to illustrate how communities' relationships to newcomers change over time and suggests how communities of practice can be made more supportive for novice participants.

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