Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Henning, Mary Beth

Degree Name

Ed.D. (Doctor of Education)

Legacy Department

Department of Curriculum and Instruction


Teachers--Training of; Social sciences--Study and teaching; Geography


This phenomenological case study examined the link between teacher practice within the classroom and a newly implemented middle school social studies Professional Learning Community (PLC). More specifically, the use of mandates, theories, and activities were investigated through a series of teacher interviews, classroom observations, post-observation discussions, and PLC observations. The participants included in this study were from one seventh grade geography PLC, consisting of ten members, three of which agreed to be further interviewed and observed. Member checking, peer reviews, and a reflexive journal were used to ensure the trustworthiness of the data, and open and selective coding were used to analyze data. In a climate where social studies, and particularly geography education, is not a priority and many teachers are often under qualified to teach specific content, PLCs can provide schools with continued, challenging, and quality support by using the expertise of teachers within their own building. The findings of this research suggest that teachers value time spent within their PLCs, and their knowledge, classroom activities, and attitude toward the subject of social studies changed in a positive way because of the PLC. The researcher found that teachers were willing and eager to improve classroom instruction, if they were provided the time for collaboration. Also, the way PLCs are implemented matters: schools should keep in mind theories on educational change, allow teachers to determine the course of their PLCs, provide teachers more time for coaching one another, incorporate theory and best practices into collaboration time, and encourage teachers to develop support networks beyond the realm of the building. Professional Learning Communities have the potential to provide students with a quality social studies education.


Advisors: Mary Beth Henning.||Committee members: Joseph Flynn; Eui-kyung Shin.||Includes bibliographical references.


213 pages




Northern Illinois University

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