Date of Award

2018

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Department

Educational Studies

First Advisor

Suha Tamim

Abstract

Noting the lack of resources to meet face-to-face, most notably time, a significant body of research has investigated the use of computer-mediated communication (CMC) to replace face-to-face interactions of teacher professional learning communities (PLCs). Equally noted is the research on social constructivist theory that supports social interaction as the foundation of learning (Vygotsky, 1978). The purpose of this qualitative case study was to determine how a successful sixth-grade PLC leveraged available technologies in support of their face-to-face collaborative efforts by answering the following research question: How do participants in an established PLC use CMC as a means of supporting and extending their face-to-face collaborative efforts? The case study investigated a sixth-grade PLC whose authenticity was solidified in 2016 as part of their earning the nation’s first ever Learning Forward School designation. This required the sixth-grade team to undergo a rigorous, on-site external review of their professional learning practices by the school improvement-focused Advanc-ED® organization. Data for the case study was collected through a semi-structured group interview, participantobservations of face-to-face interactions, and the collection of artifacts from the online platforms utilized by the PLC. Using a thematic analysis approach, several themes emerged related to participation, access, structure, leadership, time and participant preferences. Based on the findings, a district plan of action was created that included participation from all levels of leadership in providing adequate resources, including time, training and technology, to formulate successful teacher learning environments. vi The resources, as well as ongoing leadership involvement, form the basis of the action plan that aims to implement well-structured PLCs that utilize CMC in the most effective ways to support necessary face-to-face collaborative activities.

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