Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Professional Learning Communities

LEVEL 05 - Postgraduate Modular Diploma or Degree Course


DEPARTMENT Leadership for Learning and Innovation

DESCRIPTION In the context of the overall aims of the Postgraduate Certificate in Mentoring, this unit allows course participants to explore the philosophy, the culture and practices that are needed for teachers to work together and build on the strengths of each other to address the identification and improvement of practice.

This unit will explore the qualities of learning organisations and then move into the practical implications for us within the educational settings participants work in. 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. Participants will be allowed to explore different forms of collaborative practices they are familiar with or that can be attempted within their own institutions. This will help to build a repertoire of strategies that can help turn our schools into learning communities.

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

Study-unit Aims:

This study unit aims to:
1. Develop an understanding of the philosophy, the dimensions and characteristics of PLCs;
2. Help participants engage with their own current practices both as teachers and as potential mentors;
3. Challenge course participants to explore the educational context/ climate in which they work in so as to engage with the various aspects of the PLC;
4. Identify strategies that they can use to support the professional development of mentees and NQTs;
5. Share existing and 'new' practices with others.

Learning Outcomes:

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

1. Formulate an understanding and critique of the dimensions and characteristics of PLCs;
2. Explore the research work carried out in the field of PLCs;
3. Establish what it takes to nurture schools into communities of learning;
4. Compose individual and collective inquiry into those aspects/dimensions needed to nurture the learning community;
5. Construct a plan of action that addresses a particular professional development need.

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

1. Appraise and carry out an examination of the existing personal traits that help or hinder the notion of learning;
2. Discuss and develop the analytical skills needed to engage with the various dimensions of a PLC;
3. Relate and engage with the existing cultural components of a PLC within a group setting.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

Main texts:

Senge, P. (2006). The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization, 6th edition. London: Doubleday.
Sergiovanni, T.J. (2009) The Principalship: A Reflective Practice Perspective, Boston: Pearson. International Edition.

Supplementary texts:

Bezzina, C. (2006). The Road Less Travelled: Professional Learning Communities in Secondary Schools, Theory into Practice, 45(2): 159-167.
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.
Farrugia, M. (2015). Laying Foundations for an Effective Professional Learning Community in a New Primary School: An Action Research Study, Malta Review of Educational Research, 9(2): 227-250.
Stoll, L., Bolam, R., McMahon, A., Wallace, M. and Thomas, S. (2006). Professional learning communities: a review of the literature. Journal of Educational Change, 7(4): 221-258.

ADDITIONAL NOTES Pre-Requisite qualifications: B. Ed (Hons.) or PGCE + Permanent Teachers' Warrant

STUDY-UNIT TYPE Group Learning, Lecture and Seminar

Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Seminar Paper SEM2 Yes 50%
Presentation (20 Minutes) 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.