Meaningful Integration in Professional Communities

Examining User Behaviors in Catalyst


  • Stephanie W. P. Knight University of Oregon
  • Julie M. Sykes University of Oregon
  • Linda Forrest University of Oregon
  • Carla H. Consolini University of Oregon
  • Johanna Jimenez University of Oregon



L2 teacher education, online professional learning communities, reflective practice, cooperative learning, asynchronous computer-mediated communication


Online platforms have the potential to address the issue of world language teacher attrition by building professional learning communities. However, autonomous engagement is not guaranteed by the mere existence of said tools. In this article, we report findings from Catalyst user data analysis. Catalyst is an online professional development social portfolio that connects users to other professionals (in groups and as individuals). Specifically, we examine user behavior patterns in six areas-Group Membership, Goals, Evidence, Connections, Reflections, and Comments. Each feature was chosen because of its potential usefulness in facilitating meaningful and integrative participation in online professional platforms. Results reveal three behavior profiles: 1-Testers, 2-Dabblers, and 3-Embracers. Each profile exhibits unique behaviors of engagement with the portfolio. Users who did not join any group were much more likely to show the lowest level of activity (i.e., Testers), while those who were part of a group and had more connections (i.e., Embracers) demonstrated the highest level of activity. These results support the theoretical foundation for sociocultural approaches to professional learning for teachers (e.g., Kabilan et al., 2011; Kabilan & Kahn, 2012; Kitade, 2014) and highlight the critical, and mutually reciprocal, relationship between social engagement and cognitive development. 

Author Biographies

Stephanie W. P. Knight, University of Oregon

Stephanie W. P. Knight holds an MA in Latin American Studies from the University of New Mexico. She is the Assistant Director at the Center for Applied Second Language Studies (CASLS) at the University of Oregon. Her research and development of pedagogical interventions focuses on constructivist approaches to language acquisition, the intentional incorporation of digital and mixed-reality tools in learning experiences, and teacher training. Her experience includes the design and implementation of mixed-reality communication and language learning experiences for educational and professional contexts, and she has published on digital game play and mobile applications for language learning. She has taught all levels of Spanish to grades 5–16 and language methodology courses. Before working at CASLS, Stephanie served as the International Baccalaureate diploma program coordinator at a public high school.

Julie M. Sykes, University of Oregon

Julie M. Sykes earned her PhD from the University of Minnesota. She is the Director at the Center for Applied Second Language Studies and an Associate Professor in the Department of Linguistics. Her research focuses on applied linguistics and second language acquisition with an emphasis on technological and pedagogical innovation for interlanguage pragmatic development and intercultural competence. She has taught courses on second language teaching and learning, methodology and research, language learning and technology, Hispanic linguistics, and interlanguage pragmatic development. Julie's experience includes the design, implementation, and evaluation of online immersive spaces and the creation of place-based, augmented-reality mobile games to engage language learners in a variety of non-institutional contexts. She has published various articles on computer-assisted language learning (CALL)-related topics, including synchronous computer-mediated communication and pragmatic development, gaming and CALL, and lexical acquisition in digitally mediated environments. Julie is the recipient of the 2018 University of Oregon Research Award for Impact and Innovation.

Linda Forrest, University of Oregon

Linda Forrest holds a PhD in Linguistics. From 2005 until her retirement in 2020, she served as Research Director at the Center for Applied Second Language Studies at the University of Oregon. There she was responsible for the design, implementation, and management of the Center’s program of research on second language learning and assessment, serving as Project Director for various grant-funded activities, as well as providing expertise in the design and interpretation of research results for Center projects using a variety of statistical and assessment models. In recent years, she was involved with the Center’s development of mixed-reality scenarios for use in educative and professional development contexts. In addition to her work at CASLS, she joined the Board of the Oregon Genealogical Society, where she conducts genealogical research in original records, teaches classes in genealogical methodology, and edits the Oregon Genealogical Society Journal.

Carla H. Consolini, University of Oregon

Carla H. Consolini is a PhD student in Linguistics at the University of Oregon. Her research interests are related to the intersection between second language learning and technology, and practical teaching methods to incorporate technology in the second language classroom.

Johanna Jimenez, University of Oregon

Johanna Jimenez has her MA in Language Teaching Studies from the University of Oregon. Her interests lie in immigrant and refugee language teaching and language equality in the public sector. She has most recently held a teaching position for El Cultural, a language institute in Trujillo, Peru.


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How to Cite

Knight, S. W. P. ., Sykes, J. M. ., Forrest, L., Consolini, C. H., & Jimenez, J. . (2021). Meaningful Integration in Professional Communities: Examining User Behaviors in Catalyst. Calico Journal.