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The Role of a Professional Learning Community in Informing Teacher Practice: A Case Study in Raffles Girls' School

Project Type: Academic Research
Discipline: Teacher Learning
Duration: 01/2015 - 12/2017
Domain: Professional Development


The ability of professional learning communities (PLCs) to benefit professional learning and drive innovative changes in schools has been addressed in both qualitative and quantitative studies (Vescio, Ross, & Adams, 2008). However, due to the struggles entailed in creating and sustaining PLCs, it becomes a prerogative for schools to understand the outcomes of PLCs on teaching practice and student learning, in order to evaluate the effectiveness of PLCs for continual change and improvement. This study investigated how participation in a PLC contributed to teachers’ knowledge and practice; and by extension, to student learning outcomes. The PLC in this context refers to a white space carved out during school curriculum hours for teachers and school leaders to work on pedagogical issues and engage in professional discourse. A case study approach was used, comprising a mixed-method design. A school-wide survey was administered, followed by teacher interviews and PLC recordings from various departments. Student focus group discussions were piloted to elicit students’ perspectives about their learning experiences in school. Artefacts from the PLC such as online discussions, repositories, and minutes were reviewed. Results from the data suggested that the PLC had the strongest effect on teachers' assessment literacy and curriculum design practices. While some areas of learning from the PLC were observed to be translated into teaching and learning practices in the classroom, findings also highlighted a need for teachers to utilize PLC time to engage in consistent, in-depth reviews on how teaching practices have made a difference to students’ learning. Recommendations such as drafting an action plan to enhance review processes were proposed and implemented. This study concludes that the PLC retains its value and significance in the building of a collaborative work culture, and in facilitating the development of individual and collective capacities in knowledge creation and problem-solving.

Research Personnel:

Role Name Department
Investigator Ms Masturah Abdul Aziz
Ms Tan Yen Chuan 
CollaboratorMrs Lucille Yap
 Research AssistantThet Thiri Ko PeRL
AdvisorMrs Mary George Cheriyan

for RGS STaff

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