Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

A Study of Primary Teachers Participating in Professional Learning Communities with a Focus on Brain Compatible Classrooms
by Bachman, Karen S., Ed.D., Northcentral University, 2012, 166; 3534526
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation is the result of research which examined the implementation of professional learning communities in a primary school. Professional learning communities or PLCs are groups of educators coming together collaboratively in a process of inquiry and action research to achieve better results for the students they serve. While there were some studies involving PLCs, it was unknown what level of support was needed for the community to thrive. It was also unknown how primary teachers will respond when they were asked to develop and share curriculum, assessments, and interventions in an arena that had been traditionally an occupation of isolation. The proposed study involved the introduction of professional learning communities (PLCs) to 25 primary level teachers in an Ohio school district to enable them to establish collaboration protocols, common assessments, and curricular strategies to meet the needs of their students. The problem investigated was that teachers traditionally did not or were not given the opportunity to work together to create productive learning environments. Due to the structure of the school day, teachers were locked in to rigid schedules with little time to collaborate with one another to establish a clear vision, mission, or goal of the school. During the PLCs developed for this study, teachers were introduced to brain-based, developmentally appropriate practices for use in the classroom. Through collaboration, brainstorming, and sharing of ideas and practices, teachers began to develop instructional strategies that will initiate the transition to a brain compatible classroom. The teachers also developed common assessment instruments to measure their students' growth in specific curricular areas. Qualitative research—specifically, an ethnographic methodology—was used for this study. The interviews (held at three points in time) and observations (twice a month) resulted in rich dialogue presenting a picture of anticipated professional growth that transfers to improved student learning. Following the research of the study, the participants concluded that the PLC contributed to the teachers' learning, enabled the teachers to develop research-based instructional strategies, and confirmed that the instructional leader's support was important and enhanced the PLC process. Recommendations for further research include a three year study of the same 10 teachers to determine the sustainability of the PLCs or a comparison of the PLCs at three different grade levels (elementary, middle, and high school) to investigate commonalities and differences.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Ozvat, Lucy
Commitee: Ozvat, Lucy, Winsor, Denise
School: Northcentral University
Department: Educational Leadership
School Location: United States -- Arizona
Source: DAI-A 74/04(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Educational leadership, Elementary education
Keywords: Adult learners, Brain compatible classrooms, Formative assessment, Primary teachers, Professional learning
Publication Number: 3534526
ISBN: 978-1-267-81681-8
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