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Academic Advising

Communities of Practice

Communities of practice are collaborative networks of academic advisors at the University of South Carolina, dedicated to sharing expertise, solving work-related challenges, and enhancing advising practices through regular interaction and mutual learning (Wenger, McDermott, & Snyder, 2002).

Key Components

The members of a community of practice share a common problem or area of interest. Communities of practice are more than a social group. They have a shared competence on a specific topic. Members learn from one another’s experience in the field. The domain is not fixed and can grow and evolve with the group. It will guide the questions the community pursues and the way that shared knowledge is organized. 

At its core, a community of practice is a group of advisors who collaborate, learn together, develop personal connections, and develop a sense of belonging and mutual commitment. Members meet regularly to engage in learning activities and discus topics of interest within their domain. Because learning is fundamentally social, they establish relationships that allow them to learn from one another. Members of a community of practice do not need to work together every day.

More than an assemblage of people with similar interests, communities of practice share a set of frameworks, ideas, tools, information, language, and stories. They work to document and disseminate ideas, resources, and best practices. The practice is the specific knowledge that the community develops. This includes books, articles, websites, and other sources that members share and create.

Each community of practice is led by a community coordinator. The coordinator is a member of the community, often a more seasoned advisor, who helps the community focus on its domain, develop relationships, and deepen its practice. The coordinator’s primary role is to facilitate dialogue, not provide answers. Coordinators will: 

  • Identify important issues in the community’s domain
  • Plan and facilitate community meetings
  • Link community members, crossing colleges and departments
  • Facilitate dialogue between the community and the UAC
  • Help build the practice including the knowledge base, lessons learned, best practices, tools, and methods, and learning events
  • Assess the health of the community and evaluate its contribution to members and the organization

Get Involved with an Advising Community of Practice

Flipped Advising This community focuses on innovative advising approaches, emphasizing a student-centered model where students take an active role in their advising process, thereby flipping the traditional advisor-led dynamic. Katy Caulder
Academic Intervention
Dedicated to developing and sharing effective strategies for identifying and supporting students at risk academically, this community aims to enhance student retention and success through targeted interventions. Sabrina McClure
Orientation Advising This community is dedicated to optimizing the advising experience for new students during orientation, focusing on strategies to effectively introduce academic policies, resources, and planning tools to students as they begin their journey at the university. Marissa Rittermeyer & Caitlyn Brockington
Experiential Learning
This community explores and shares best practices in integrating experiential learning opportunities, such as internships, research, and service learning, into academic advising to enhance students' real-world skills and experiences. Kimberly Chamberlain
Advising Students with Disabilities
This community specializes in developing and sharing best practices for advising students with disabilities, focusing on creating inclusive and accessible advising strategies that accommodate and support the unique needs and challenges of these students. Brandi Byers
Advising Scholarship, Research, and Writing  This community focuses on leveraging advisement data, academic works, and personal experiences to address challenges in the advising profession and explore innovative solutions. Goals include publishing independent and collective works, promoting dialogues within USC with UAC support, and contributing to internal and external conferences, workshops, and individualized growth plans. This community aims to influence university-wide and unit-level advisor training through shared composition, reflection, and encouragement Kerry Armbruster

Why Join a Community of Practice?

Joining a Community of Practice at the University of South Carolina offers numerous benefits and aligns with several strategic intents that can significantly enhance your role as an academic advisor:

  1. Problem-Solving Collaboration: Engage with peers to collaboratively address and solve day-to-day work challenges, leveraging the collective wisdom and experience of the group.
  2. Best Practices Development: Contribute to and benefit from a growing repository of best practices, ensuring that you are always equipped with the most effective and up-to-date advising strategies.
  3. Tools and Insights Access: Gain access to a wealth of tools, insights, and approaches specifically designed to enhance your performance in your advising role, helping you to provide better support to students.
  4. Innovation and Creativity: Be part of a dynamic environment that encourages the development of innovative solutions and ideas, fostering creativity in addressing the evolving needs of students and the advising profession.
  5. Professional Development and Visibility: By actively participating in a community of practice, you directly link your professional growth to the strategic direction of the University and the University Advising Center. Your significant contributions can also increase your visibility and impact within the organization, opening doors to new opportunities and recognition.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.