A Study of the Relationship Between Teacher Efficacy and Professional Learning Communities in an Urban High School
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This study explored the relationship between teacher efficacy and professional learning communities. Specifically, this study utilized a mixed design encompassing quantitative and qualitative aspects of the professional lives of 27 teachers in an urban high school. Bandura’s (1986) social cognitive learning theory of self-efficacy provided the framework for the construct of self-efficacy. Hord’s (1997) dimensions of professional learning community served as the framework for the exploration of professional learning communities for this study. Two survey instruments were utilized to assess whether a relationship exists between dimensions of teachers’ self-efficacy beliefs and dimensions of teachers’ perceptions of professional learning community. A Pearson correlation was calculated for the data. For this study, the results revealed that dimensions of teachers’ self-efficacy beliefs are not correlated at all to the dimensions of professional learning community. For the qualitative aspect of this study a phenomenological design was utilized. Using primarily interviews, data were collected from the sample participants who had experienced being a part of professional learning communities; thereafter, a composite description of the essence of the experience for all individuals was synthesized. This description consists of “what” they experienced and “how” they experienced it (Moustakas, 1994). Results indicated that the participants had the same general experiences pertaining to professional learning communities: a sense of frustration, a lack of vision and direction, and a lack of collaboration when participating in a professional learning community. The results of this study showed that there exists a gap in the knowledge of the impact that correct, systemic implementation of professional learning communities has on participating teachers’ self-efficacy. Given the results of the study, further research on the impact professional learning communities have on teacher self-efficacy should be conducted with consideration given to how professional learning communities are implemented and supported in order to add to the knowledge base in future research.