The Repository @ St. Cloud State

Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship

Date of Award


Culminating Project Type


Degree Name

Educational Administration and Leadership, K-12: Ed.D.


Educational Administration and Higher Education


School of Education

First Advisor

John Eller

Second Advisor

Plamen Miltenoff

Third Advisor

Kay Worner

Fourth Advisor

Roger Worner

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Keywords and Subject Headings

principal, professional learning community


Principals in Minnesota are required to remain current in knowledge of leadership for relicensure and evaluation purposes. One method used by Minnesota principals to increase their leadership capacity using the latest teaching and learning research strategies, is the professional learning community (PLC). Limited research is available on principals’ professional learning communities in Minnesota and the challenges to participate in them. The study provides an examination of principal professional learning communities and how Minnesota school district principals use collaboration to increase their knowledge in the field of administration.

Barth (1985b) suggested “the principal is the head learner . . . and the power of the leader as learner in improving schools rests squarely on the extent to which we proudly and openly find ways of inventing, owning, sustaining, displaying, and celebrating our own learning” (p. 94). DuFour (2002) proposed principals must “shift from a focus on teaching to a focus on learning” and “teachers and students benefit when principals function as learning leaders rather than instructional leaders” supporting the practice of principals serving as models for learning (p. 13).

Adults learn differently than children (Knowles, 1984). Professional development needs to be relevant, action-based, not a traditional sit-and-get type of development opportunity (Zepeda, Parylo, & Bengtson, 2014). Brown, Anfara, Hartman, Mahar, and Mills (2002) recommended that “professional development for middle level principals should take place in a supportive cohort structure that promotes reflection on local school needs and sharing among fellow colleagues” (p. 132).

Various organizations advise principals to meet in a collaborative network, critical friends group or a community of practice (Institute for Educational Leadership, 2000; Neufeld, 1997; Oliver, 2005; Wenger, 2000). Pentland (2014) describes “social learning” where people learn from watching each other’s behavior and listening to their experiences (p. 20). Pentland (2014) also suggested that collaborative groups may be as effective when using electronic modes of communication and meetings, if trust is established first in a face-to-face setting.

Taking into account the influence of high stakes testing and principal evaluation systems, it is appropriate to research further how professional development among Minnesota principals is occurring through professional learning communities.



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