UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Professional learning communities and professional development Kelly, Jennifer Lynn


This case study examines the concept and practice of participating in a professional learning community as a form of professional development by a group of teachers in an interior British Columbia school district. The reflections and discussions of this group of teachers-as-learning community are examined in order to understand how the subjects construct their realities relative to their involvement in a professional learning community. The transcripts from semi-structured interviews of the subjects, which were reflective in nature, were analyzed to determine patterns or themes. As a result, four main themes emerged: benefits of a professional learning community, isolationism, criteria for self-sustaining professional development, and suggestions for improvement. From the data it became evident there were many perceived benefits to participating in a professional learning community for this group of teachers, each surrounding the main aspect of collaborative learning. Interdependence among the group members was the most significant benefit of this professional development practice. Other beneficial characteristics of this form of professional development included shared leadership, a shared set of ideas and values to strive towards, perturbation-based learning, and continual motivation to develop professionally. This study has potential educational importance because it informs teachers and administrators about the practice of a group of teachers’ professional learning communities and corroborates their value in professional development. The concept of self-sustaining professional development is also discussed in the final chapter as a query regarding professional learning communities and their implicit value in the long-term.

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