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Becoming a member of a nursing community of practice: negotiating performance competence and identity

journal contribution
posted on 07.03.2022, 03:09 authored by Xiaorong Mary ChenXiaorong Mary Chen, Newman, M., Park, S.
The challenge faced by newly graduated nurses from undergraduate study to practice is a persistent theme in nursing practice literatures. However, there is a lack of understanding about how this transition happens. This focused ethnographic study explored how newly graduated nurses (novices) interacted with experienced nurses and learnt in a hospital ward in Singapore. Using the ‘Trajectory of identification framework’ developed from Wenger’s Community of Practice theory, data was collected through observation and focused group discussions. This research revealed the participating rules as the sociocultural characteristics of the nursing community, and how these characteristics are ongoingly negotiated among the nurses. The nurses’ changing performative competence and identity in different situations are conceptualised as the ‘Participation Space’. This study also showed how concepts of Community of Practice theory can be analytically applied and further developed in empirical study. Specifically, a conceptual ‘Participation Matrix’ is theorised which adds an additional tool to understand the nurses’ dynamic participation and negotiation of membership in a Community of Practice. Novices’ transition should be viewed as an ongoing dynamic workplace learning, through which negotiation of performative competence and identity among members take place. The soon to be novices and workplaces should be prepared with this understanding.


Singapore Institute of Technology under Grant [P-SIT-E103-H010]


Journal/Conference/Book title

Journal of Vocational Education and Training

Publication date




Rights statement

This is an Accepted Manuscript version of the following article, accepted for publication in Journal of Vocational Education and Training. Chen, X. M., Newman, M., & Park, S. (2021). Becoming a member of a nursing community of practice: negotiating performance competence and identity, Journal of Vocational Education & Training, DOI: 10.1080/13636820.2021.2015715. It is deposited under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Corresponding author

Mary Chen Xiaorong