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Professional learning communities a review of the literature for a dissertation

Apr 6, 2018

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Due to the growing interest of school leaders in implementing learning communities as a way to build capacity for and sustain change, a better understanding of how the concepts of professional learning communities (PLCs) and communities of practice (CoPs) are related will aid educators in their quest to implement these concepts. This paper compares models of PLCs and CoPs and explores knowledge development and sharing within both concepts. Implications for both scholars and HRD practitioners are included. (Contains 1 table and 1 figure.)

The purpose of this study was to focus on teacher learning as it relates to professional learning communities. It is often touted that schools are a place for student learning, but many teachers now see school as a place for them to become learners as well through professional learning communities. This qualitative case study was designed to determine if the implementation of professional learning communities was meaningful for the teacher learner and the teaching culture. A review of literature illustrates how professional learning communities evolved, gives definitions of professional learning communities from experts, and discusses characteristics of successful communities. Two professional learning communities were studied through a variety of methods including observations, interviews, questionnaires, and artifact review. This research study scrutinized three pre-formulated topics that emerged as having direct influence on the success of professional learning communities for participating teachers: (1) supportive conditions, (2) shared personal practice, and (3) collective learning and application. The findings declared that the teachers involved in this study did engage in professional learning communities where authentic learning takes place. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page: http://www.proquest.com/en-US/products/dissertations/individuals.shtml.]

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Abstract

International evidence suggests that educational reform’s progress depends on teachers’ individual and collective capacity and its link with school-wide capacity for promoting pupils’ learning. Building capacity is therefore critical. Capacity is a complex blend of motivation, skill, positive learning, organisational conditions and culture, and infrastructure of support. Put together, it gives individuals, groups, whole school communities and school systems the power to get involved in and sustain learning over time. Developing professional learning communities appears to hold considerable promise for capacity building for sustainable improvement. As such, it has become a ‘hot topic’ in many countries.

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