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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

An exploratory intra-school study of how Professional Learning Communities have benefitted a high performing Southwestern Pennsylvania Middle School
by Shasteen, James L., Jr., Ed.D., University of Pittsburgh, 2013, 190; 3573263
Abstract (Summary)

The purpose of this study was to explore the extent to which teachers in one high performing Southwestern Pennsylvania Middle School view the model and use of Professional Learning Community teams in their school with an existing survey instrument. Twenty-three of twenty-four teachers participated in this voluntary mail survey.

The researcher used Shirley Hord's School Professional Staff as a Learning Community survey instrument in an attempt to measure the maturity level of Professional Learning Communities within one high performing middle school. Prior to this study, the survey was used to compare schools to other schools.

Upon receiving completed surveys, the researcher, based on Frick and Semmel's (1978) use of marginal agreement, measured observer agreement in three seventh and three eighth grade Professional Learning Communities. In doing so, the researcher provided summary tables of the variation within teams and grade levels.

Further data analysis led the researcher to recognize that many participants responded to survey items with a four or five on the survey's five point Likert scale. Also, the survey's format included descriptions only under the 1, 3, and 5 rating levels that were designed to measure maturity. Additionally, the descriptions were written in a vague manner which does not measure the maturity or internal processes of the school, evidence of change, or the school's high ranking.

While it is important to see the number of responses to the specific questions of the survey's five constructs, it is equally important to have data that demonstrate the lack of overall observer agreement so that teachers and administrators are aware that the survey itself is insufficient for measuring the maturity of Professional Learning Communities within one school.

Finally, after making several recommendations for school administrators and teachers with regard to Professional Learning Communities and school policy, it is important for individual schools to do their own research and recognize that the administration of one survey on one occasion may not provide adequate data for program planning and/or evaluation.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: McClure, Maureen
School: University of Pittsburgh
School Location: United States -- Pennsylvania
Source: DAI-A 74/12(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Educational leadership, Middle School education, School administration, Teacher education
Keywords: Agreement, High-performing schools, Observer, Pennsylvania, Professional learning communities
Publication Number: 3573263
ISBN: 978-1-303-43044-2
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