Term of Award

Spring 2008

Degree Name

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

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)

Department

Department of Leadership, Technology, and Human Development

Committee Chair

Linda M. Arthur

Committee Member 1

Barbara J. Mallory

Committee Member 2

Sharon Brooks

Abstract

The research explored the current professional learning practices in place at three elementary schools within the same district to determine what school wide and individual professional learning practices have been implemented and if they have played a role in their success as Title I Distinguished Schools. The research also explored the extent to which the three schools reflect the five dimensions of a professional learning community: 1) shared and supportive leadership, 2) shared vision and values, 3) collective learning and application, 4) shared personal practice and (5) supportive conditions (collegial relationships and structures). A mixed methodology collective case study design was used. Quantitative data was collected from a large sampling utilizing the Professional Learning Community Assessment (PLCA) (Olivier, Hipp & Huffman 2003). Qualitative research methods were utilized using interviews with the Title I Coordinator, principals, and members of the School Improvement Team. The research revealed the school-wide professional learning and individual professional learning resulted from the goals of the School Improvement Plan as well as those that are mandated by district and state initiatives. Other conclusions drawn from the study include; 1) Professional learning is fundamental to school improvement efforts; 2) Developing staff collaboration is an important tool for improving instructional programs in schools through professional learning teams to improve teacher knowledge and teaching skills; 3) Professional learning is an integral component of school and district school improvement initiatives and should support the goals of the district and schools improvement plans; 4) The option to choose professional learning activities is important to teachers; 5) Teachers prefer time for professional learning and collaboration during the regular school day; 6) Professional learning communities provide a context of collegiality to support teachers and administrators as they strive to improve student learning.

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