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Appears in Collections:Faculty of Social Sciences eTheses
Title: A Critical Realist study of Learning Rounds: inside the black box
Author(s): Oates, Catriona
Supervisor(s): Priestley, Mark
I'Anson, John
Keywords: Collaborative Professional Learning
Professional Learning Communities
Learning Rounds
Teacher Learning
Critical Realism
Issue Date: 19-May-2021
Publisher: University of Stirling
Abstract: This research study explores a version of professional learning communities (PLCs) in the context of Scottish education. The rise in popularity of PLCs as a means of collaborative, situated professional learning for teachers, in recent years, has led to the growth of several variations on this phenomenon, and a particular version of them, the Learning Round, is the focus of this study. They are considered in relation to the importance of their role in the wider context of teacher professional learning in Scotland. The study seeks to shine a light inside the PLC to investigate the so far under-researched internal processes, interactions and emergent practices. The study is framed by a Critical Realist (CR) approach, as a qualitative case study, using semi-structured interviews in two school settings where LR and other forms of PLC have taken place. CR provides a depth ontology that has been adopted as it allows for the examination of mechanisms that explain how structural, cultural and agential factors have influenced the internal workings of the PLCs in question. Findings suggest the PLC is presented as a structure to enable the collaborative improvement of practice but, in the absence of mutual accountability, the achievement of individual improvement is prioritized for most participants. For participants, support to enable congenial relationships to develop more collegially is essential, in order to achieve critical engagement and mobilise the PLC as a site for the creation of shared work supported by mutual accountability, as opposed to the sharing of practice for individual improvement. For school leaders, some tensions are identified in balancing horizontal and vertical leadership and in calculating how far to step in or step back from the PLC. In stepping out entirely they forgo the opportunity to bring system-level perspective and make an epistemic contribution to the PLC. Finally, implications for practice, policy and research are explored, considering how PLCs might be re-articulated in the light of these findings.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation

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