An Analysis of Professional Learning Communities' Deliberation on Teacher Thinking
Disney, Jeane Margaret
University of Kansas
Curriculum and Teaching
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Many school districts are creating professional learning communities (PLCs) in which teachers are grouped for the purpose of collaboratively examining ways to improve student learning. PLCs are based on the assumption that actively engaging teachers in professional conversations will increase their knowledge and enhance student learning. This case study sought to gain insight into these conversations through the lens of deliberative democratic theory. According to this theory, if participants (i.e. teachers) offer reasoned opinion expressions and are inclusive of all group members, then they will be challenged to revise their viewpoints, leading to instructional change. The study involved observations of and interviews with three PLCs comprised of elementary, middle, and high school teachers within the same district. It was determined that these groups casually deliberated by sharing opinions on resources and teaching strategies that could be used with students. They listened to one another, shared personal experiences, asked questions, participated equally, and engaged in the topics of discussion to inform their own professional decisions. The teachers reported sharing instructional resources and strategies as a benefit of participating in a PLC, although the implementation of those resources was strongly influenced by a teacher's self-efficacy with the strategy. Teachers also reported the difficulty they experienced in deeply analyzing student data, not wanting to make a judgment about a group member's past performance. Overall, teachers stated that their perspectives were expanded based on the deliberations they held.
- Dissertations 
- Education Dissertations and Theses 
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