Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Nurturing Professional Learning Communities in Maltese Schools

LEVEL 05 - Postgraduate Modular Diploma or Degree Course


DEPARTMENT Faculty of Education

DESCRIPTION The image of the school as community is important and can be used by educators and school leaders in particular to help make our schools more caring and productive places for both teachers and students. The main thrust of this study-unit is that if we want to improve the quality of education for our students we need to work at creating a climate for learning amongst its educators. The main argument that will be developed is that not only should we commit ourselves to this image but we should strive to make schools communities of responsibility (Sergiovanni, 2001)

This unit will explore the qualities of learning organisations and then move into the practical implications for us within our own College/school settings. The unit allows participants to explore local and international data about the nature of organisational learning in schools, the conditions which foster or inhibit such learning, and some of the outcomes behind such learning. Different strategies, such as participatory evaluation and professional development are explored.

The unit also explores current and potential new directions for turning our schools into learning communities.This unit will also allow us to bring together a number of themes that would have already been covered.

This study-unit is built round a number of lectures and concludes with a week-end residential (Friday to Sunday) where the participants will engage through short lecturettes, involvement in group work and present their own work through group presentations.

Study-unit Aims:

This study unit aims to:
1. Develop an understanding of the philosophy, the elements, the various dimensions and characteristics of PLCs;
2. Explore the educational context/ climate in which participants work so as to engage with the various aspects of the PLC;
3. Develop a repertoire of ways of nurturing and empowering teachers to work collectively and collaboratively;
4. Explore what it takes to to turn schools into communities of learning;
5. Undertake introductory research work in schools to explore various facets of the PLC.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- explore the research work carried out in the field of PLCs;
- develop an understanding and critique of the philosophical underpinnings, the dimensions and characteristics of PLCs;
- understand what it takes to nurture schools into communities of learning;
- stimulate individual and collective inquiry into those aspects/dimensions needed to nurture the learning community;
- articulate ways of developing a strategic plan for continuous professional development within a specific educational setting.

2. Skills:
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- examine and investigate leadership traits personally and collectively;
- apply and practice team building skills;
- manage and resolve conflict situations;
- engage with the cultural components of a PLC within a group setting.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

Harris, A., Day, C., Hopkins, D., Hadfield, M., Hargreaves, A. and Chapman, C. (2003) Effective Leadership for School Improvement, London: RoutledgeFalmer. Chapters 3,4,5,8 and 10. (required text)

Sergiovanni, T.J. (2009) The Principalship: A Reflective Practice Perspective, Boston: Pearson. International Edition (required text)

Farrugia, M.A. (2011) The Significance of Collaboration for Newly Qualified Teachers: A Case Study at St. Peter and St. Paul Primary Schools. MSc in Educational Leadership assignment, University of Leicester.

Reading Pack containing articles from leading journals (made available on VLE), including the following:
Cormier, R. & Olivier, D.F. (2009) Professional Learning Committees: Characteristics, Principals and Teachers. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Louisiana Educational Research Association.

Chapters from Books:
Bolam et al,. (2005) Creating and Sustaining Effective Professional Learning Communities. NCSL, Research Report 637.
DuFour, R. and Eaker, R. (1998) Professional Learning Communities at Work, Bloomington: National Educational Service. (presented in pack)
Gordon, S. (2004) Professional Development for School Improvement: Empowering learning communities. Boston: Pearson. (presented in pack)
Leithwood, K. and Seashore, Louis, K. (eds) (2000) Organizational Learning in Schools. Lisse: Swets & Zeitlinger. (presented in pack)

STUDY-UNIT TYPE Group Learning, Lecture and Seminar

Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Presentation (20 Minutes) SEM2 No 50%
Report SEM2 Yes 50%


The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the study-unit description above applies to the academic year 2019/0, if study-unit is available during this academic year, and may be subject to change in subsequent years.