Learning From Success as Leverage for a Professional Learning Community: Exploring an Alternative Perspective of School Improvement Process

Jan. 30, 2010

Source: Teachers College Record, Volume 112 Number 1, 2010, p. 182-224.
Although the professional learning community as a means of improving student achievement has received growing support from researchers and practitioners alike, professionals are still exploring ways to develop interaction networks regarding teaching and learning issues.


This study explores the evolving stages of a collective learning-from-success process within the framework of a professional learning community.

Research Design
A qualitative case study of a comprehensive (middle and secondary) public school community was conducted to explore practitioners’ collective learning from successful practices.

Data Collection and Analysis
A total of 12 detailed session transcripts from the learning-from-success sessions (circle of learners), 42 evaluation forms (21 internal and 21 external evaluations), 6 observations of the development team’s sessions, and pertinent documents were collected for analysis. The analysis process involved identifying patterns in the data— recurring ideas and perspectives that depicted the social world studied.


Data revealed that this collective process moved through three distinct, but closely interrelated, dynamic stages: invitation and framework building; collective inquiry into colleagues’ professional successes; and experimentation and dissemination.


Whereas collective learning has been approached from a deficit-based orientation, this study reinterprets the professional learning community to include the collective learning-from-success process, thus providing a new outlook for linking concepts with practical capabilities in light of public school reality.

Updated: May. 25, 2010