All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Loucrecia Collins

Advisory Committee Members

Matthew Fifolt

Tonya Perry

Boyd Rogan

Document Type

Dissertation

Date of Award

2013

Degree Name by School

Doctor of Education (EdD) School of Education

Abstract

This qualitative multiple case study explored what district leaders, high school administrators, and high school teachers in a large southeastern school district in the United States thought about participating in Professional Learning Communities (PLC)s as a form of professional learning for teachers. One common method of professional development over the last decade is the Professional Learning Communities. Learning communities are popular as a way to support student achievement; however, there is limited research to show how teachers learn as a result of participating in professional learning communities. There is also limited research to support this type of professional development as effective professional development in the high school setting. My study helped to fill the gap by looking at whether this method of professional development supports adult learning and creates a change in classroom practice. The study was conducted in one school system that had created a strategic plan for continuous school improvement involving the mandatory use of professional learning communities in its schools. The system had a sustained 7-year effort and provided time and resources for the professional learning communities. The participants included four district leaders, five administrators, and three focus groups consisting of 25 total teachers. Data analysis was conducted at two different levels, within each individual case and across the three cases. Individual case analysis was conducted for three cases: (1) district leaders; (2) high school administrators; and (3) high school teachers. For each case, themes and subthemes emerged. A cross-case analysis of the three cases revealed similarities and differences among the three individual cases. Four themes emerged from the cross-case analysis: (1) administrator responsibility; (2) attitude; (3) collaboration; and (4) authentic learning. The four themes presented a description of how professional learning communities support adult learning. Because of this qualitative study, school districts and administrators may have a better understanding of how to structure their professional learning communities to support adult learning for their teachers.

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