Working together to develop a professional learning community

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Research and Development in Higher Education: Quality Conversations Vol. 25

July, 2002, 794 pages
Published by
Tony Herrington
0 908557 54 X

There is a growing body of evidence to suggest that traditional formal models of staff development are failing to help educators to integrate ideas into practice and that staff development is, “ ...done to teachers rather than with them” (Fullan & Hargreaves 1991:17). This pilot project supplements the traditional workshop model with one in which educators learn in their own professional communities through discussion that is embedded in their work. This case study follows the experiences of a group of staff in tertiary education who participated in informal professional practice groups in order to foster their own professional learning and reduce professional isolation. Each professional practice group comprising both academic and allied staff, met on a regular basis usually in an informal setting, with the aim of learning by sharing ideas and experience and constructing knowledge through conversations focused on teaching, learning and other organisational matters. The findings suggest that participation in a professional learning group fosters a collaborative learning culture and reduces professional isolation. It was found that collaborative groups are not easy to build or sustain. It appears that people will give their time voluntarily to collaborate with colleagues, with whom they would not normally work, providing that they are learning and feel that they have something to contribute.

Keywords: collaborative, professional dialogue, learning

Working together to develop a professional learning community

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Anderson, S.