Term of Award

Fall 2006

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Education Administration (Ed.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Leadership, Technology, and Human Development

Committee Chair

Barbara Mallory

Committee Member 1

Michael D. Richardson

Committee Member 2

Fred Page


The purpose of this study was to examine a high school's attempt at reform through implementing a component of a professional learning community to determine if Senge's five disciplines of a learning organization were present. The school was in the second year of implementing common planning time, one of the practices related to organizational learning. This study used qualitative methodology and employed an integrated phenomenological design to investigate the perceptions and lived experiences of the core-subject teachers and department heads involved in common planning time at one high school. Participant observation, document and artifact collection, semi structured interviews, photographs and a survey were used to collect data. A data table was designed from all five data sources and blended to report the findings. This study helped to illuminate teachers' stories of their lived experiences when trying to implement a professional learning community through common planning time. The findings suggest that this school showed evidence of improvement following their participation in common planning time. These improvements were noticeable in the areas of peer relationships, peer collaboration, and a focus on student improvement. Findings also indicate that Senges five disciplines were applied in the school on an individual basis, but not on an organizational level. Therefore, the researcher did not find evidence of a professional learning community. Themes within the dimensions, however, were identified, including administrative support, self-reflection, common planning, collaboration, curriculum/student achievement, and barriers. The findings suggest the importance of the role of leadership, and that a structured school wide interdepartmental common planning time will create a structure that supports the whole organization. Findings also revealed barriers to the initiative that included teacher resistance, time, and changing demographics. Results of this study point to the need for teachers, administrators, and districts to receive training in the five disciplines of personal mastery, mental models, team learning, shared vision, and systems thinking before implementing a professional learning community. As a result of this study, recommendations are offered for restructuring the framework and beliefs to better meet the needs of high schools in the process of implementing professional learning communities.

Research Data and Supplementary Material