Academic Commons

Theses Doctoral

Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) as a Means for School-Based Science Curriculum change

Browne, Christi

The challenge of school-based science curriculum change and educational reform is often presented to science teachers and departments who are not necessarily prepared for the complexity of considerations that change movements require. The development of a Professional Learning Community (PLC) focused on a science department's curriculum change efforts, may provide the necessary tools to foster sustainable school-based curriculum science changes. This research presents a case study of an evolving science department PLC consisting of 10 middle school science teachers from the same middle school and their efforts of school-based science curriculum change. A transformative mixed model case study with qualitative data and deepened by quantitative analysis, was chosen to guide the investigation. Collected data worked to document the essential developmental steps, the occurrence and frequency of the five essential dimensions of successful PLCs, and the influences the science department PLC had on the middle school science department's progression through school-based science curriculum change, and the barriers, struggles and inhibiting actions of the science department PLC. Findings indicated that a science department PLC was unique in that it allowed for a focal science departmental lens of science curriculum change to be applied to the structure and function of the PLC and therefore the process, proceedings, and results were directly aligned to and driven by the science department. The science PLC, while logically difficult to set-up and maintain, became a professional science forum where the middle school science teachers were exposed to new science teaching and learning knowledge, explored new science standards, discussed effects on student science learning, designed and critically analyzed science curriculum change application. Conclusions resulted in the science department PLC as an identified tool providing the ability for science departmental actions to lead to outcomes of science curriculum change improvements with the consideration but not the dictation of the larger school community and state agendas. Thus, the study's results work to fuse previously separated research on general PLCs and curriculum change efforts into a cohesive understanding of the unexplored potential of a science PLC and school-based science curriculum change.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Science Education
Thesis Advisors
Rivet, Ann
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
July 7, 2014