Publication Date


Date of Final Oral Examination (Defense)


Type of Culminating Activity


Degree Title

Doctor of Education in Educational Technology


Educational Technology

Major Advisor

Jesus Trespalacios, Ph.D.


Patrick R. Lowenthal, Ph.D.


Brett E. Shelton, Ph.D.


Virtual Communities of Practice (VCoP) may provide the afloat community of the USCG greater opportunities for learning and professional development. The affordances of virtual engagement, including increased access to learning and peer feedback may enhance interaction and opportunities for the development and refinement of professional expertise. Although the specific learning needs and constraints of this community, including geographic separation and dynamic deployment schedules, appear well-aligned with VCoP structure and objectives, it is critical that the knowledge-sharing culture of the USCG’s afloat community be thoroughly explored before pursuing any form of performance and learning intervention. Grounded in Lave and Wenger’s (1991) concept of legitimate peripheral participation, along with situated learning, social cognitive theory, and social exchange theory, this study revealed that the afloat community possesses potential for successful engagement in a VCoP. Members share knowledge frequently within the community and demonstrate experience, interest, and comfort with virtual learning. However, the afloat community’s potential for engagement in a VCoP may be challenged by members’ perceptions of trust and vulnerability with sharing information on mistakes and lessons learned. Recommendations for enhancing trust and promoting communal development and sustainment are presented.

Disclaimer: This study is not official U.S. Government or U.S. Coast Guard research. The views expressed herein are those of the researcher and are not official policy statements nor intended to result in official policy.