Date of Award
Doctor of Education (EdD)
School of Education
This action research study explores the implementation of Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) at three Catholic schools in a large Midwestern Archdiocese and the impact on the schools' professional cultures. The three-article dissertation structure is used to reflect separately on the stages of problem identification, designing the solution, and implementing and evaluating the solution. The purpose of this project is to capture an insider's view of beginning the PLC journey.
Researchers first conducted problem-based consultations with principals and teacher leaders at the three schools in an effort to understand and define common barriers that prevented teacher collaboration and ownership of school change efforts. The common barriers identified included teacher isolation, lack of focus and collective accountability on student outcomes, and lack of time and a structure for collaboration. Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) were identified as the proposed solution to address the need for collaborative, comprehensive, focused work toward school improvement at all three school sites.
The researchers developed a plan for implementation of PLCs, to be led by the principals and teacher leaders at each school, and provided on-site weekly support, assuming the role of coaches. Researchers collected data throughout the first six months of implementation, capturing observational data as well as teacher and principal perceptions through interviews and surveys.
The overall findings indicate that the PLC process has been effective at all three schools in increasing levels of collaboration, teacher reflection, and ownership of student outcomes. All schools, however, are in a developing stage therefore there are pockets of resistance and a lack of belief in the value of the work. This research validates that PLCs are a vehicle for change which complement the nature of Catholic schools and can address challenges for sustained school improvement.
Sullivan, Debra, "Shifting Professional Culture in Catholic Schools: A Case Study" (2015). Dissertations. 1307.
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Copyright © 2015 Debra Sullivan