Year of Award


Document Type

Professional Paper

Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name

Communication Studies

Other Degree Name/Area of Focus

Organizational Communication

Department or School/College

Communication Studies

Committee Chair

Dr. Joel Iverson

Committee Co-chair

Dr. Betsy Bach

Commitee Members

Dr. Gregory Larson, Dr. Annie Sondag


Communities of Practice, Sex Education


University of Montana

Subject Categories

Organizational Communication


Sex education is not contained to the classroom, rather, it is a lifelong evolving experience for both the individual and their community, which continually influence one another. More specifically, sexual health is understood through communication with others – exemplifying learning as a truly social process. As such, Communities of Practice theory (CoP) is a useful lens to better understand how a community can develop through social learning in sex education training. This paper evaluates the Foundations Training, a widely adopted Comprehensive Sex Education (CSE) practitioner training, using Wenger-Trayner’s (2015) list of CoP activities as a guide for qualitative coding. This evaluation identified which types of activities were present in the training that supported the creation of a CoP and made recommendations on how to improve and encourage this process. The evaluation revealed that the goals of CSE are well represented: social, communication, negotiation, problem solving, decision making, and goal setting skills. Prioritizing these goals will improve students’ experience and confidence in the topic of sexual health thus developing and empowering their relationship with the information. Ultimately, this evaluation supports approaching sex education using CoP theory as an innovative method to foster community building among students so as to socially learn about sexual health, for themselves and their community.



© Copyright 2020 Shanay L. Healy