Fostering the development of Professional Learning communities (PLCs) should be a priority for education because of their capacity to enhance teachers’ professional development. However, in everyday educational (school) contexts studying and supporting the growth of PLCs is a complex endeavour. As a consequence, there is a lack of instruments for extensively investigating PLCs on different levels of development as well as the factors that influence the development. This article describes the first steps of the construction of measuring instruments, suitable to investigate PLCs in the complex school context: a study of the operationalisation of PLC characteristics and influencing factors into attitudinal and behavioural indicators. The operationalisation is founded on relevant literature and on educational practice, the latter by focus groups consisting of educational practitioners. This study yielded indicators for the eleven characteristics of the PLC concept and two context factors, which were subsequently used for selecting and constructing instruments. This study contributes to the research methodology for investigating PLCs and to bridge the gap between educational research and educational practice. The latter by constructing instruments that are considered relevant, recognisable and practical by educational practitioners.
- Professional learning community
- focus groups
- developing research instruments
- design based research