An Investigation of Assistant Principals', Teachers', and Principals' Perceptions of Their Schools as Professional Learning Communities
Jones, Stanley Bernard
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The purpose of this study was to investigate assistant principals', teachers', and principals' perceptions of their schools as professional learning communities. The researcher examined how assistant principals, teachers, and principals viewed their schools as characterized by each of the five dimensions of professional learning communities: (a) shared leadership, (b) a shared vision, (c) collective learning and its application, (d) shared personal practice, and (e) supportive conditions. Each of the schools selected for this study was in the 5th year of implementation of an intensive school improvement process aimed at enhancing, sustaining, and improving student learning. A comparative case study design was employed to investigate differences in the perceptions of assistant principals, teachers, and principals in the schools. The units of analysis for this study included one high school and its feeder middle school in the Commonwealth of Virginia that served as demonstration sites for a federally funded grant addressing literacy improvement for all students. The School Professional Staff as Learning Community Questionnaire (SPSLCQ) (Hord, 1996) was used to collect quantitative data; subsamples of administrators and teachers at each school were interviewed to add qualitative data to the study. A composite model gleaned from the literature on professional learning communities served as the conceptual framework for this study and consisted of five interrelated dimensions of professional learning communities: (a) shared and supportive leadership, (b) shared values and vision, (c) collective learning and its application, (d) shared personal practice, and (e) supportive conditions. Assistant principals, teachers, and principals were asked to describe their world, their work, and their experiences in their schools to create a picture of the schools as professional learning communities. Findings from the two sites are reported for each of the five dimensions of the professional learning community model. Findings for each of the five dimensions of the professional learning community model were analyzed and interpreted for each school as well as findings that compared the schools across each dimension. Conclusions are provided for each of the five dimensions of the professional learning community model. Recommendations for practice and future research are presented for each of the conclusions.
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