Culminating Project Title
Date of Award
Culminating Project Type
Educational Administration and Leadership, K-12: Ed.D.
Educational Administration and Higher Education
School of Education
Dr. John Eller
Dr. Janine Dahms-Walker
Dr. Kay Worner
Dr. Roger Worner
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.
Keywords and Subject Headings
Education, Professional Learning Communities, Professional Development
In 1985, professional learning community (PLC) pioneers, Shirley Hord, Richard DuFour and Robert Eaker undertook an exploration of the concept of teachers working in small groups or learning communities. Participants in these initial learning communities shared common experiences, ideas, practices, and developed strategies to address issues they faced in their work with students (Hord 1997; DuFour & Eaker 1998). This concept was supported by McLaughlin and Talbert (1993) when they suggested that, given the opportunity for collaborative inquiry, veteran teachers will share the wisdom they have gained through experience in a way that allows improved teaching practices for all involved.
In 2000, Senge, Cambron-McCabe, Lucas, Smith, Dutton and Kleiner, reported that the, “learning organization approach to education” needs to be more than just talking and working in groups. It needs to involve everyone “…in expressing their aspirations, building their awareness and developing their capabilities together” (Senge et al., 2000, p. 5). Over time this learning community concept became known as the professional learning community, or PLC (Hord, 1997). DuFour & Eaker (1998), Lieberman and Pointer-Mace (2009), Darling-Hammond (1996) and Bryk and Schneider (2003), all contended that these professional learning communities have the capacity to transcend reform movements and result in continuous improvement in schools.
Over time, many school districts and their leaders have modified the professional learning community concept. They have done so to such a degree that they may no longer achieve, fully, their originally desired or anticipated results. In July 2011, the Minnesota legislature passed House File No. 26 (HF 26), a revision of the statewide teacher evaluation system. This legislation brought about numerous changes to Minnesota Statute 122A.40, subd. 8. One of these changes was the promotion of PLCs in public schools.
Even though much has been written about PLCs and their intended uses, limited research was found regarding whether or not PLCs are being implemented consistent with best practice, as identified in research, in the public schools of Minnesota. This study will examine the level to which the key characteristics of PLCs, as identified by DuFour, DuFour, Eaker and Many (2010) are being implemented in Minnesota public schools. It also identifies the barriers encountered by public school districts in implementing PLCs. The conceptual framework for this study was derived from the work of DuFour et al. (2010), in their book, Learning by Doing: A Handbook for Professional Learning Communities at Work (2nd Ed).
The purpose of the study is to examine professional learning communities in public schools in Minnesota using the characteristics identified by DuFour et al. (2010). While PLCs are now recommended in all public schools by Minnesota State Statute, there are no studies which examine whether or not these PLCs are being implemented effectively based on best practices described in research. This study attempts to determine if PLCs are in fact being implemented effectively, based on best practices described in research, by: describing and contrasting the characteristics of PLCs employed in public school districts in Minnesota, the districts’ duration of use of PLCs, and district barriers teachers and administrators have encountered when implementing PLCs.
Johnson, James R., "An Evaluation of Implementation and Effectiveness of Professional Learning Communities in Minnesota Public Schools" (2016). Culminating Projects in Education Administration and Leadership. 14.