Community of practice evaluation

Network Analysis: University of Waterloo Wellness Collaborative


The transformative vision of the Okanagan Charter: An International Charter for Health Promoting Universities and Colleges calls for higher education to transform the health and sustainability of our current and future societies, strengthen communities and contribute to the well-being of people, places, and the planet. It provides a common language, principles, and framework to embed health into everyday operations, business practices and academic mandates. At University of Waterloo, a university-wide initiative, the Wellness Collaborative, was established in June 2019 to implement the institution’s commitments to the Okanagan Charter. To make the Wellness Collaborative accessible to the university community, the Community of Practice (CoP) was established for all students and employees across disciplines, departments, affiliated colleges, and campuses to network and collaborate on holistic wellbeing. Since the inception of the Wellness Collaborative, the membership of the CoP has grown from 27 to 115 members. On average, 50 individuals attend each session, as membership is intended to be fluid, and members are encouraged to participate in sessions that have greatest relevance.


The aim of this evaluation was is to assess collaboration within the CoP. A network analysis was employed to assess collaboration, distribution and diversity through mapping and analysis of connections (Cross et al., 2006; Cunningham et al., 2012; Herranz, 2010; Ranmuthugala 2011). The present study seeks to assess the following evaluation questions: Where has inter-departmental collaboration been supported? Where can further support be directed?


The primary data was collected through an online survey developed specifically for this CoP evaluation (see Appendix 1). Survey questions were based on collaborative network and network analysis literature discussed. The survey was launched at the CoP meeting in March 2021 and through email distribution to the CoP membership. A total of 197 individuals were eligible to complete the Community of Practice survey by means of their membership in the CoP or because they were named in the survey as someone who is reached out to by CoP members. The response rate was 54%: 107 respondents completed the survey and 106 were suitable for network analysis (one was excluded due to missing identification).


Network analysis focused on connections between individuals in the network based on reaching out for information or expertise on promoting wellbeing (Cross et al., 2006; Cunningham et al., 2012; Herranz, 2010; Ranmuthugala 2011). Data was exported and analyzed using Gephi network visualization software (Gephi, n.d.).  Network visualization was performed to assess member diversity, multiservice collaboration, network distribution, subgroups, and reciprocity.


Evaluation of the University of Waterloo Wellness Collaborative demonstrated a pan-university network with extensive multiservice collaboration consistent with one of the key requirements of health promoting universities. The network, however, remains centralized with members in Campus Wellness being the predominant collaborators, and few connections being reciprocated. Members are not yet seeing the benefit in terms of improving their ability to solve issues related to wellbeing; though, some CoP members are seeing an improvement in their enthusiasm for promoting wellbeing.

These findings will inform future network development at Waterloo, with a focus on network distribution and diversity of participation. Facilitation can be aimed at redistribution of connections to create efficient and effective performance and knowledge dissemination.

View the full Wellness Collaborative Evaluation Report (.pdf).