Article Details

Research Database: Article Details

Citation:  Bezyak, J.L., Yan, M., Kang,H., Burke, J. & Chan, F. (2013). Communities of practice to improve employment outcomes: A needs assessment. Journal of Occupational Research, 0 0.
Title:  Communities of practice to improve employment outcomes: A needs assessment
Authors:  Bezyak, J.L., Yan, M., Kang,H., Burke, J. & Chan, F.
Year:  2013
Journal/Publication:  Journal of Occupational Research
Publisher:  Springer Science + Business Media
Full text:   
Peer-reviewed?  Yes
NIDILRR-funded?  Yes
Research design:  Qualitative research

Structured abstract:

Background:  Professionals working with people with disabilities need research findings presented in an understandable and user friendly way. One way to help translate knowledge from research to practice is the use of communities of practice. Communities of practice are a group of individuals with a common concern and can be thought of as an informal learning organization. These are found most often in businesses and allow practitioners to participate in development of knowledge and practice guidelines. Using this strategy offers opportunities to enhance communication between professionals who want to improve employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities.
Purpose:  The purpose of the study was to "conduct the foundational research necessary to assess the need for a community of practice related to the Americans with Disabilities Act and job accommodations." The research questions were "What is the need for a community of practice to assist HR professionals in the employment of individuals with disabilities and what guidelines and content areas should be included in the community of practice in order to benefit stakeholder groups?"
Setting:  Participants were identified through emails sent by ten human professional organizations in Colorado.
Study sample:  The sample included 38 professionals from human resource or vocational rehabilitation. The majority or 33 were female. About a quarter were vocational rehabilitation professionals.
Intervention:  This was a focus group study designed to look at the interest in developing a community of practice related to the ADA and reasonable accommodation.
Control or comparison condition:  Mike
Data collection and analysis:  Participants attended one of four focus groups. Each group lasted an hour. While there participants were asked about their views on using communities of practice to share information about the Americans with Disabilities Act and job accommodations. Data was collected using semi structured interviewing format. The groups responses were recorded, transcribed and uploaded into the NVivo10. The data was then analyzed using coding and memoing.
Findings:  Focus group data analysis revealed three main categories. These included general considerations for establishing a community of practice, technical structures of a community of practice, and contents of a community of practice. Although participants were not familiar with the community of practice concept, they not only thought it was a viable way to receive information, but also were interested in its development. Human resource participants indicated this could assist them with getting disability information, materials and resources. They also noted this could allow them to develop a social network with others who had similar experiences and expertise. Various potential stakeholders were identified and included HR professionals, employees with disabilities, various community partners and government officials. A primary motivating factor for human resource professionals to use a community of practice was to obtain new information in a visually appealing but brief and concise way. Various benefits were noted and included: and increase to understanding disability and employment related materials. A primary barrier was accessibility to the information due to the inability to use social media at work. Concerns about confidentiality and disclosure also surfaced. Thoughts related to the technical structure of a community of practice were also expressed. Content should include: practical strategies and best practices to assist individuals with disabilities with employment and may need to consider overcoming social stigma.
Conclusions:  The study looked at the need for a community of practice on ADA and job accommodation and identified initial guidelines for development and content. There appears to be much interest and a need to develop this type of tool for HR and rehabilitation professionals. Information must be basic and useful.

Populations served:  Other