Being a Doctoral Student: Participating in Multiple Communities of Practice

Being a Doctoral Student: Participating in Multiple Communities of Practice

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2656-9.ch019
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This chapter continues to address the doctoral student perspective in terms of participation in multiple communities of practice both local, virtual/online, and as represented in professional groups. The chapter finishes with encouragement to balance one's participations in communities by identifying the ideal level of participation to meet career goals and the practical considerations that hone the list to a more practical and achievable level.
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Regional, State, And National Professional Organizations

The doctoral faculty in your program should encourage you to participate in professional organizations as time and resources allow. Regional groups are a great place to begin to experience joining your professional community. State level groups are always looking for more participants in their work. They often have conferences that are less expensive than the national groups and there is often a higher rate of presentation proposal acceptance.

Attending and presenting at conferences on the national level is ideal, but more resources may be needed to support the endeavor. Beyond conference attendance, however, there are many ways to participate in national professional organizations.

You can reach peripheral participation in these national level communities of practice by doing smaller things such as:

  • Becoming a member of the organization (at the reduced student rate).

  • Reading journals and books published by the organization.

You can move to a higher level of participation doing other minor efforts such as:

  • Volunteering for organization committees.

  • Volunteering to review for the organization’s journals.

  • Writing articles and book chapters for organization publications

All these things are ways to contribute to the profession in smaller ways without spending a lot of money or large amounts of time.

The national conferences are a bit more costly, but the benefits of active participation in a national conference far exceed the costs. Moreover, there are several ways to reduce the costs of attending:

  • Seek funding support through grants.

  • Seek support through your doctoral program if the resources are available.

  • Apply to the national organization itself, which may offer reduced student rates or have scholarships for conference attendance.

  • Travel with peers in the doctoral program, sharing hotels, and information about inexpensive ways to travel.


Be Both Idealistic And Realistic

All this interaction requires a lot of energy and time. Only do that which will serve to move you forward in your career and meet your goals. You must make purposeful choices about which communities to join peripherally, and in which communities you will work to become an insider.

Whatever participation you can do in these organizations will shape your career, the opportunities you will be offered, how you think about your work, and how you help those that you serve, whether they are in PreK-12, at the university, or some other related field.

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