The 3M National Teaching Fellowship: A High Impact Community of Practice in Higher Education

Anita Acai, Arshad Ahmad, Nancy Fenton, Leah Graystone, Keegan Phillips, Ron Smith, Denise Stockley


The 3M National Teaching Fellowship is a national teaching award program that has recognized over 300 teachers at more than 80 Canadian universities for their teaching excellence and outstanding educational leadership. Despite its rich, 30 plus-year history, its impact has remained largely anecdotal. In this study, we build on Hannah and Lester’s (2009) original, multilevel approach that looks at interactions between the individual, network, and systems levels to explore the impact of the 3M National Teaching Fellowship program on furthering and enriching teaching and learning in higher education. Through the analysis of a large collection of program artefacts corroborated with in-depth interviews with 11 fellows (key informants), we were able to gain a deeper understanding of the ways in which the program has had impact at the individual (micro), departmental (meso), institutional (macro), and national/international (mega) levels. In this article, we outline our scholarly exploration of the program’s influence and explore its role as a high-impact community of practice in higher education.


Teaching; Leadership; Award; Fellowship; Impact

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Teaching & Learning Inquiry is the official journal of the
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