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The Effects of Professional Learning Communities on Student Achievement

Description: The purpose of this study was to examine data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study: Kindergarten Class of 1998-99 (ECLS-K) report, identify questions and statements that correlate to the dimensions of professional learning communities (PLCs), and determine the effect PLCs have on student achievement based on the ECLS-K data. In addition, the rationale for doing this research was to measure growth in student achievement over time. A multilevel growth model was used for this research. Univariate analysis was conducted in order to reveal frequencies and percentages associated with teacher responses. Bivariate analysis was applied in order to determine the inter-correlations between the fourteen variables. Once the inter-correlations were determined from the bivariate analysis, principal component analysis was applied in order to reveal the theoretical relationship between the variables. Through the use of principal components a set of correlated variables is transformed into a set of structure coefficient: support and collaborative. Finally, a multilevel growth model was used in order to determine the effect that each variable within the support and collaborative structure coefficients had on student achievement over time. This study revealed a number of variables within the ECLS-K report that correspond to the dimensions of PLCs have a statistically significant effect on student achievement in math and reading over time. This study demonstrated that support and collaborative variables within PLCs have a positive effect on both math and reading IRT achievement from 3rd grade to 5th grade.
Date: August 2009
Creator: Burdett, John M.
Partner: UNT Libraries

The impact of leadership capacity and style on professional learning communities in schools.

Description: Leadership capacity may be enhanced when school staff members work together as a professional learning community (PLC). Leadership style may impact how well a school staff work as a professional learning community. The purpose of this study was to assess the relationship between principal leadership style and the level of PLC on 18 campuses across the US that were working on becoming PLCs. Staff members answered questions from two surveys which measured the level of leadership capacity, leadership style of the principal, and level of professional learning community within the schools. Questions regarding leadership capacity and leadership style were taken from the Leadership Capacity School Survey. Questions designed to measure the level of PLC on a campus were taken from the Professional Learning Community Assessment. The product-moment correlation coefficient or Pearson r was calculated between the answers from the questions from both surveys. The results indicated that when a capacity building principal is working with staff members to create a PLC, a higher level of PLC development is evidenced. When principals used collaboration with their staff, their schools operated at a lower level as a PLC. These results encourage principals to consider building capacity among their staff members if they want to create professional learning communities on their campus.
Date: December 2008
Creator: Scoggins, Kimberly Travis
Partner: UNT Libraries

The Effectiveness of a Professional Learning Community on Student Achievement in Elementary Reading and Mathematics in a Large Urban School District

Description: The study was to determine the impact of a Professional Learning Community on student achievement as measured by the state's criterion referenced reading and mathematics achievement tests. Data for this study were extracted from the school district's student database. Two cohorts of 90 students each were randomly selected from a population of approximately 600 students in 3 schools that participated in a Professional Learning Community (treatment) and 3 schools that did not (control). Professional Learning Communities known as PLCs, can serve as a major theoretical framework to promote the improvement of classroom teachers' instructional practice, teacher effectiveness and student achievement. Reading and mathemtics mean scale scores were extracted at three time points (year 1, year 2, and year 3) across three grades (grade 3, grade 4 and grade 5). Test for equality of variance found that no statistically significant difference existed between the mean scale scores of the two cohorts at the beginning of the study. The findings revealed that both cohorts trend toward increased academic achievement from year to year individually; however, when compared to each other, no statistically significant difference existed. Further research is indicated to examine each PLC for implementation, support and leadership as they relate to the PLC and a focus on instruction and learning.
Access: This item is restricted to UNT Community Members. Login required if off-campus.
Date: May 2016
Creator: Landry, Jacqueline Hayles
Partner: UNT Libraries

School District Actions that Support the Development of Professional Learning Communities in High Schools

Description: A gap exists in education research in the area of district support for campus-based professional learning communities (PLCs). The current study was an examination of practitioner perceptions of district structures and practices that support the development and sustainability of PLCs in public high schools. I examined the perceptions of 341 teachers, campus administrators, and district administrators in a suburban North Texas public school district with three comprehensive high schools. Using a sequential mixed-method design, quantitative data from an electronic survey and qualitative data from face-to-face interviews were collected and analyzed. The findings revealed a generally positive view of central office support among the participants, including consistent ratings from each high school, each campus-level position, each content area, and each level of experience in the district. There was some misalignment of perceptions between campus-level and district-level staff. The study also uncovered a set of best and worst district practices, the six PLC strengtheners and six PLC inhibitors, which were synthesized into a set of recommendations and guidelines for district support for high school PLCs. From participant feedback, I concluded district support is needed and desired by high school practitioners and there are specific district practices and structures that are most effective. While the study results provide a practical set of recommendations for school districts for supporting high school PLC efforts, expanded research is necessary to confirm transferability to school districts of diverse sizes, locations, and demographics.
Date: May 2017
Creator: Axelson, Gregory Carl
Partner: UNT Libraries

Professional Learning Communities: A Comparative Case Study of Shared Personal Practice

Description: Effective instructional practice has a significant impact on student learning. Shared personal practice within a professional learning team (PLT) is one of the key elements in consistently improved instructional practice. However, this PLT characteristic is often the least evident and the hardest to absorb into PLT culture. This study examined the relational characteristics, facilitating factors, or barriers to shared personal practice within a PLT. Two PLTs in core subject areas across two Texas high school campuses were included in this comparative case study. Data from document analysis, PLC observations, focus group interviews, and in-depth individual interviews were examined thematically to answer the research questions guiding this study. The results of this study revealed that building strong relationships and an emphasis on collective creativity were strong predictors of sharing personal practice. Collective clarity on PLT practices and the purpose of sharing personal practice increased the success and occurrence of sharing personal practice. The results also revealed that the copious tasks of teaching and negative perceptions of being observed by colleagues hindered consistent sharing of personal practice. This study describes the current context of shared personal practice as a foundation for future studies to examine how practice can be transformed.
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Date: August 2017
Creator: Curtis, Anna E
Partner: UNT Libraries

Examining the Relationship Between Individual and Work Environment Characteristics and Learning Transfer Factors

Description: To impact student learning, educators’ implementation, or transfer, of new knowledge, skills, dispositions, and practices to daily work is the primary purpose of professional learning. The purpose of this study was to assess the multivariate relationship between individual and work environment characteristics as measured by the Collective Efficacy Scale and Dimensions of Learning Organization Questionnaire, respectively, and learning transfer factors as measured by the Learning Transfer System Inventory. The sample consisted of 249 PK-12 grade school- based instructional staff members of an education association. Canonical correlation and commonality analyses required using the two individual and work environment characteristics of learning culture and collective efficacy as predictor variables of the five learning transfer factors of performance self-efficacy, transfer-effort performance expectations, performance outcome expectations, performance coaching, and resistance to change to evaluate the multivariate between the two variable sets. Learning culture and collective efficacy demonstrated a relationship to resistance to change and performance outcome expectations. Learning culture and collective efficacy were insufficient to transfer-effort performance expectations, attend to performance self-efficacy beliefs, and increase support for transfer (i.e., performance coaching) factors. These findings might guide the decisions and practice of individuals with responsibility to plan, implement, and evaluate professional learning, and provide the conditions necessary for changing educational practice while increasing support for and building educators’ confidence about implementation. Further research may confirm the findings and enhance generalizability.
Date: August 2013
Creator: Kennedy, Jacqueline E.
Partner: UNT Libraries

Central Office Administrators' Perceptions of the Professional Learning Community Process

Description: This study provides a qualitative interpretation of the work done by central office administrators in a school district in Texas as they supported and built capacity for the professional learning community (PLC) process over a five year time period. Literature by PLC scholars, especially R. DuFour, R.B. DuFour, Eaker, Hord, Hipp, Huffman, and Olivier, informed development of the study. In a school district of 19,000 students and 2,000 staff members, ten central office administrators were interviewed to gain their perceptions of their roles in the PLC process. Interviews were analyzed through the processes of initial, focused, and theoretical coding. Documents were examined and used as supplemental sources of data to corroborate the perspectives provided. Findings revealed the story of central office administrators who worked interdependently to support and build capacity in the implementation and sustainment of the PLC process. A thick description of the work based on their perceptions offers actions and behaviors of administrators specific to their roles and practices and protocols developed to hold the work together. A grounded theory was developed with regard to central office administrators' support and capacity-building for the PLC process. From the administrators' perceptions, six theoretical categories relating to central office support and capacity building of the PLC process emerged: 1) establishment, 2) deployment, 3) accountability for implementation, 4) adult learning, 5) collaboration, and 6) leadership development. The study contributes an interpretivist description of the involvement of central office in the PLC process and confirms the importance of the change process in the implementation of the PLC framework.
Date: August 2013
Creator: Pruitt, Mary E.
Partner: UNT Libraries

Professional Learning Communities & Personal Learning Networks in Information Science

Description: This presentation is part of a Doctoral Student Special Interest Group (SIG) panel discussion group from the 2012 Association for Library and Information Science Education (ALISE). Doctoral students discuss various ways to keep up with changes in information science and technology through developing professional learning communities.
Date: January 2012
Creator: Hill, Valerie; Bartoletti, Robin; Helge, Kris & Brannon, Sian
Partner: UNT College of Information

The Effect of Professional Learning Communities on Perceived Teacher Self-Efficacy

Description: This qualitative case study examined the effect of PLCs on teacher self-efficacy, and whether the type of PLC structure on each campus affected efficacy. The overarching research question that guided the study was, to what extent does perceived teacher self-efficacy change as a result of the practice of PLCs? Participants were selected using purposive and convenience sampling. Ten teachers and two principals on two different campuses participated in teacher focus groups and one-on-one principal interviews, respectively. The available literature on the topics of professional development, professional learning, teacher collaboration, and teacher self-efficacy yielded the discovery that collaborative practices can be used to improve a school and/or district or used to enhance positive practices that already occur. This study adds to the body of research as it develops the area of teacher efficacy and influence of PLCs. Using the coding software, NVivo, focus group data were coded into themes and further comparisons were made with categories derived and saturated until conclusions were drawn. The data show teacher self-efficacy increases as a result of PLCs when teachers are able to experience positive feedback from teammates, shared leadership, trust and honesty, and a freedom to fail. For those teachers who are not on a campus where PLCs are present, the data suggest they created their own PLCs as the need arose. These teachers experienced all of the same benefits of those teachers on a campus where a formal PLC structure exited; however, their stress level was higher.
Date: May 2018
Creator: Prince, Coryn Elizabeth
Partner: UNT Libraries

Professional Learning Communities and School Improvement: Implications for District Leadership

Description: The purpose of this research was to understand the role of district leadership better in the implementation and development of professional learning communities. This investigation was a mixed-methods analysis of the perceptions of a school district's support in the implementation of professional learning communities (PLCs) at the school level. Additionally, in this study, I examined how the PLC framework supports systemic school improvement, using Hord's definition of the five dimensions of a professional learning community. A PLC literature review informed the study. A school district of approximately 14,000 students, and a high school of 2,219 students was selected as the population sample. One hundred high school staff members and 20 central office administrators completed the PLCA-DS of Professional Learning Community Assessment-District Support, developed by Olivier, Huffman and Cowan, to measure both school and district level personnel's perspectives regarding the district's role in the implementation of PLCs at the school level. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with district personnel as well as school leadership and professional campus based staff, which played integral roles in the development of professional learning communities. These roles include the school principal, assistant principal, liaison and other staff who are working collaboratively at the school and district levels to support PLC implementation. The investigation results indicated the importance of leadership and culture throughout this change process and critical to school improvement as evidenced by the study of District A and High School A1.
Date: May 2018
Creator: Flowers, Kelly N.
Partner: UNT Libraries

Perceived Impacts of a Study Abroad Experience on In-Service Teachers' Practices

Description: This phenomenological multiple case study provides the details, reasoning, and discussion of the role of study abroad experience and its perceived impact(s) on three in-service teachers. Two research questions were posed: What are the perceived impacts on in-service teachers' practice of a study abroad program experience and how does the in-service teacher's perception of impact change over time within a teacher's career? Results of this study suggest that the teaching practice of in-service teachers who study abroad would benefit, especially in the area of intercultural competence, if this experience is structured in a way where the curriculum of the study abroad program aligns with the content of their future teaching assignment i.e. curricular bridging. Case evidence further suggests that long-term impact of a study abroad experience upon a teacher's practice is related to providing the future teacher an opportunity for to develop and maintain pedagogical relationships with students while abroad. The term ‘submersion' is introduced to help articulate depth of impact during a study abroad program experience.
Date: August 2018
Creator: Felts, Mark T
Partner: UNT Libraries

Leadership and sustainable change: The relationship between leadership practices of principals and reculturing schools as professional learning communities.

Description: This study examined the relationships between leadership practices of principals and strength of schools as sustainable professional learning communities. Strength of schools as professional learning communities was measured using the Professional Learning Communities Assessment; leadership practices were measured using the Leadership Practices Inventory both Self and Observer protocols. Findings indicated that neither principal's self-perceptions of their leadership practices nor teachers' assessments of their principals' leadership practices were related to strength of schools as professional learning communities. Findings did indicate ten specific leadership behaviors of principals that appear to be more highly related to strength of schools as learning communities. Further analysis which focused on the two strongest learning community schools and the two weakest learning community schools indicated that three specific leadership behaviors within Kouzes and Posner's practices of modeling the way and enabling others to act appear to be the most strongly related to reculturing schools as sustainable professional learning communities. Principals who set a personal example of what they expect of others are most likely to lead schools that function as strong learning communities. Additionally, principals who build consensus around a common set of values are also most likely to lead strong learning communities. Finally, principals who develop cooperative relationship with co-workers are most likely to lead schools that function as strong learning communities.
Date: May 2009
Creator: Hill, Shannon D.
Partner: UNT Libraries

Professional Learning Community Dimensions in a North Texas Elementary School’s Culture and Their Impact on Reading and Math Student Growth Scores

Description: The purpose of this mixed methods study was to determine which dimensions, as represented by the Professional Learning Community Assessment – Revised dimensions, are present in the environment of North Texas elementary schools and their impact on student growth. A survey design was utilized in which elementary principals and teachers in a selected school district completed the Professional Learning Community – Revised survey developed by Hipp and Huffman (2009), to gather perceptions of PLC implementation within their school environments as well as reflect strengths and needs regarding each dimension. The results of the survey were analyzed and one-to-one interviews were completed to clarify and support survey results. Bivariate and multiple regression analysis were used to determine correlations between dimensions present in a school’s environment and their impact on student growth. The study found a statistically significant relationship between the dimensions of shared values and vision and shared personal practice and math growth. Although PLCA-R dimensions were not found to be statistically significant in predicting reading and math growth, the effect sizes were notable at 22.4% for reading growth and 15.8% for math growth. This study’s findings provide important information which educators can use to implement practical application of Professional Learning Communities within their schools and districts. By understanding which dimensions are present within a school’s environment as well as their impact on student growth, educators can continue to increase knowledge and develop a focused plan for implementing strategies which are effective in strengthening teaching and learning in order to increase student achievement.
Date: May 2015
Creator: Patrick, Linda Denise
Partner: UNT Libraries

From the Outside In: A Multivariate Correlational Analysis of Effectiveness in Communities of Practice

Description: Online communities of practice (CoPs) provide social spaces for people to connect, learn, and engage with one another around shared interests and passions. CoPs are innovatively employed within industry and education for their inherent knowledge management characteristics and as a means of improving professional practice. Measuring the success of a CoP is a challenge researchers are examining through various strategies. Recent literature supports measuring community effectiveness through the perceptions of its members; however, evaluating a community by means of member perception introduces complicating factors from outside the community. In order to gain insight into the importance of external factors, this quantitative study examined the influence of factors in the professional lives of educators on their perceptions of their CoP experience. Through an empirical examination of CoPs employed to connect educators and advance their professional learning, canonical correlation analysis was used to examine correlations between factors believed to be influential on the experiences of community members.
Date: August 2016
Creator: Bomar, Shannon Hulbert
Partner: UNT Libraries

The Five Dimensions of Professional Learning Communities in Improving Exemplary Texas Elementary Schools: A Descriptive Study

Description: This descriptive study investigated the development of the 5 dimensions of the professional learning community model in 5 economically disadvantaged and diverse Texas elementary schools, which demonstrated improvement in student achievement on the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) over a 5-year period. Each of the schools were given the highest performance rating of Exemplary during the 2008 school year according to criteria developed by the Texas accountability system and had changed from an Acceptable rating in 2004. The purpose of this study was to determine the level of the development of the 5 dimensions of the professional learning community model in improving exemplary Texas elementary schools and to identify and compare the possible commonalities and differences existing between the schools on the 5 dimensions of professional learning communities. The 5 dimensions of the professional learning community model investigated in this study include: 1) shared and supportive leadership, 2) shared values and vision, 3) collective learning and the application of learning, 4) shared personal practice and 5) supportive conditions (collegial relationships and structures). The method used in this study was a mixed method approach that employed a questionnaire, individual principal and teacher interviews and school performance documents to collect data. The questionnaire data was analyzed through descriptive and analytical statistics while the interviews were investigated by identifying and documenting emergent patterns and themes. The findings from this study suggest that sustainable professional learning communities are evident in the high performing schools selected for this study. The study implies the culture of these schools is supported by relationships fostered by trust and mutual respect and their success is attributed to the collaborative, collegial and collective learning of the staff. Staff members from these schools are focused on student learning while campus leadership, grade level and vertical teams provide the structures ...
Date: December 2009
Creator: Blacklock, Phillip Jeffrey
Partner: UNT Libraries

Design of Informal Online Learning Communities in Education

Description: The U.S. Department of Education, Office of Ed Tech Future Ready program has encouraged the use of open informal learning communities as professional learning opportunities for educators. This study categorizes 46 state Twitter chats by their moderation techniques and design. A purposive sample of Twitter chat designers participated in this phenomenological exploration that demonstrates how the designs of these informal learning spaces are aligned with the designers' pedagogical philosophies. Recommendations for supporting, growing, and sustaining similar learning communities are included.
Date: August 2016
Creator: Kilgore, Whitney Kay
Partner: UNT Libraries

District Support: Strategies for Building Capacity in Elementary Principals in a Rapid Growth District

Description: The purpose of this descriptive case study was to examine the role of the central office staff and the strategies used to support capacity building in elementary principals in a rapid growth district. By synthesizing research and models from education reform scholars, the conceptual framework of professional capital, intrinsic motivation, the educational change process, and professional learning communities was generated to advance the understanding of utilizing PLCs as a foundation for central office to initiate and sustain continuous improvement in a rapid growth district. The Professional Learning Community Assessment - District Support developed by Olivier, Huffman, and Cowan was administered to 126 participants within the curriculum and instruction department and three elementary schools to collect data to analyze the five dimensions of PLCs within the school district. Eleven interviews were conducted with members of the curriculum and instruction department and elementary principals. According to the eleven interviewees, and PLCA-DS, six themes emerged to support the role of capacity building in elementary principals using the PLC model as a framework. The PLC infrastructure, supportive central office, collaborative culture, continuous improvement, differentiated opportunities to learn, and data use were the six themes generated by the participants to support continuous improvement in elementary principals. Each of the five PLC dimensions were visible throughout the themes as the findings illustrated six key practices currently in motion within the rapid growth school district used to build capacity in elementary principals.
Date: August 2016
Creator: Jamar, Jacye
Partner: UNT Libraries

The Impact of Professional Development on Student Achievement As Measured by Math and Science Curriculum-based Assessments

Description: The purpose of this study was to explore the impact of teacher professional development on student achievement measured by scores on curriculum-based assessments, CBAs. The participants in the study included 260 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade math and science teachers. Teacher participation in professional development courses was collected for curriculum, instruction, differentiation, assessment, technology integration, and continuous improvement credit types. Achievement data for 8,454 students was used: 2,883 in 3rd grade, 2,752 in 4th grade, and 2,819 in 5th grade. The dependent variable of student achievement was dichotomized at the median: half of the student participants scored above the median and half of the students scored at and below the median. A series of logistic regression models were fit to the data that included examining all main effects and interaction terms among all variables to determine the best fitting model. The results of this study indicate that for 4th grade science, teacher professional development participation in curriculum, instruction, and differentiation credit strands increased the chances for students to score above the district median on CBAs. The larger number of professional development hours in a variety of credit strands had a negative impact on student achievement in 4th grade science. In 5th grade science, the students whose teacher spent more hours in professional learning for continuous improvement had an increased likelihood of scoring above the district median on CBAs.
Date: August 2013
Creator: Parish, Deidre A.
Partner: UNT Libraries

The Impact of Teacher Professional Development on Student Achievement at a North Texas High School as Measured by End-of-Course Assessments in Algebra I and English Language Arts

Description: The purpose of this study determined if a significant relationship existed between the amount of professional development that teachers participated in and the impact on the classroom instruction that followed. The goal was to study the effect that this had on student achievement in the State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness (STAAR) for English 1 and Algebra 1 for students at a large north Texas high school. Testing years for the study included the school years 2013-14, 2014-15, and 2015-16. Additional variables included the work in three areas of teacher professional development over the three-year period. Fourteen teachers, in two subjects, were studied in their implementation of classroom instruction. Particular attention was given to the instructional changes, and the number of hours of professional development in the areas of instruction, technology, and differentiation. Teachers were given opportunities to participate in 18 hours of professional development in all three areas in each of the three years. Teachers were then asked to incorporate the work that they completed each year into their day to day classroom instruction. The goal of the implementation of the professional development in addition to the curricular specifics regarding instruction of state standards was expected to produce increased state scale score marks for the students in the classes. Results of the study indicated success for students in the area of English 1 end-of-course assessment. From the beginning of the study, where student success rates in English state assessment was calculated at 47% overall passing rate, to the completion of the study, where student success was charted at 70% overall passing rate, significant changes were noted. In addition to the improvements made in English I, there were also significant changes made in the approaches to the Algebra 1 assessment. Classroom instructional practices were noted as much improved, and ...
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Date: August 2018
Creator: Younkman, Freddy W
Partner: UNT Libraries

District Leadership Supporting PLC Implementation in a Rapid Growth District

Description: A growing body of work has emerged regarding the responsibilities required of district leaders in establishing plans that initiate and create conditions for sustainability of continuous improvement achieved through a systemic reform structure such as professional learning communities. However, limited research exists in respect to sustaining cultures of continuous improvement in rapid growth districts. Rapid growth districts can be described as school systems, which construct and open multiple campuses annually. The underlying premise of this study considered how humans interact with one another within a rapidly changing professional organization. Change theory, professional capital, organizational learning theory, and system reform emerge as the conceptual framework in this study of district support of professional learning communities. Data collection for this qualitative descriptive case study included interviewing six K-12 principals, administering the PLCA-DS survey to 247 K-12 staff members, and document review. Recognition of the importance of the PLC framework, building capacity, development of collaborative culture, and issues resulting from constant change due to rapid growth were the four themes generated by the participants to support continuous improvement in a rapid growth district. The four themes combined with the components of the conceptual framework outline how district leaders in a rapidly changing environment cultivate a process leading to system-wide improvement.
Date: December 2016
Creator: Tinsley, Laurie Huffman
Partner: UNT Libraries