Professional learning communities: Preservice education programs
Preservice teacher education (PTE) is not preparing preservice teachers in using one of the most effective forms of professional development: Professional learning communities (PLCs). PLCs are being used in schools and districts as the new type of professional development. The purpose of this study was to clarify the relationship between levels of instructor experience and the perceived benefits and successes found in using PLCs in PTEs. Three areas of literature were examined for this study: adult learning, PLCs, and PTEs. Seven universities in Montana were identified and used for this study with 80 participants. A survey was administered to find out what the difference was between the level of instructor experience (majority of experience in k-12 or higher education and tenure/not tenure) in terms of the instructors' perceptions of PLCs in PTEs. The perceptions were measured using a likert-type scale on the survey instrument created by the Journal of the National Staff Development Council. Mann Whitney U was used to compare measures of central tendency between the perceived dependent variables (i.e., benefits and successes,) and the independent variables without assuming normality. The findings showed that in Montana there is no difference between the level of experience and tenure in terms of perceived benefits and success. This information can be used to design professional development for pre-service teachers to promote social change. Social change can occur when PLCs are taught in PTEs, allowing the benefitsto reach children in real classrooms. Social change will occur when classroom children are taught by teachers that benefit from a research based professional development strategy such as PLCs.
0530: Teacher education