Keeping track of the development of professional learning communities in schools: the construction of two qualitative classification instruments

Fred Huijboom, Pierre Van Meeuwen*, Ellen Rusman, Marjan Vermeulen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


For investigating a comprehensive PLC framework, instruments are needed that capture the multi-layered PLC characteristics and that take into account the complex influencing educational context. Such instruments are currently lacking. This study aims at describing the development and validation of two qualitative classification instruments usable for systematically identifying changes in PLCs. The 11 characteristics and accompanying behavioural and attitudinal indicators of a recently designed PLC framework were converted into codes and measuring values. For this conversion the ‘directed content analysis approach’ was used. The result is two classification instruments that can be used to collect and classify behavioural and attitudinal data from interviews and observations. The instruments cover all the characteristics, respectively indicators of the PLC framework and are suitable for validation by triangulation. This study contributes to the methodology for investigating PLCs by presenting two theoretically grounded and validated sets of codes, and two sets of measuring values. The latter is important for systematically developing knowledge on PLCs in educational practice. In everyday educational practice the instruments can be used to determine the state of the PLC and steps can be taken to stimulate its development.
Original languageEnglish
JournalProfessional Development in Education
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 20 Feb 2020


  • Professional learning community
  • discourse analysis
  • interactive learning
  • qualitative research
  • coding scheme

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