The Wallace Foundation’s Education Leadership Professional Learning Communities

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The Wallace Foundation’s Education Leadership Professional Learning Communities

The methodology included these steps, completed from September-December 2011:

  • Setting the parameters and guidelines for research: Initial conversations with GEO and the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) yielded a set of parameters to help guide the search for LC examples. The most important were that the LC is made up of members from across organizations, blends face-to-face and virtual communications, and has a collective purpose beyond the learning aspirations of each individual.
  • Theory/concept review: The study team searched academic engines and practitioner-friendly publications, and reviewed 53 references for definitions, theoretical foundations and strategies for seeding or facilitating LCs.
  • Scan of learning communities: RCLA cast a wide net to identify LC examples by conducting a Web-based search, looking up cited examples in the literature, and having conversations with key informants. RCLA then generated an initial list of 37 LCs that were identified as having learning potential for GEO.
  • Validation calls: After eliminating solely online LCs, RCLA complemented the initial information found by conducting validation calls with 21 LCs.
  • Case study selection: Six LCs were identified by RCLA, GEO and CNCS for further study. Key considerations in selection included maintaining a range of LC type and duration, studying both loosely structured LCs and those with predefined learning activities and requirements for participation, and the LC’s resonance and success.
  • Case study interviews: The team then conducted hour-long interviews with three to five individuals from each case, including both foundation officers and LC organizers, and LC participants.
  • Learning Summit: In a half-day session hosted by GEO, RCLA shared overall findings with a group of leaders from GEO, CNCS and member foundations in GEO's network.

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