Date of Award

January 2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Foundations & Research

First Advisor

Kathleen Gershman


The purpose of this study was to develop better understanding of professional learning communities (PLCs) and how they have evolved over the years as a comprehensive school reform to improve teachers’ knowledge, skills, and instructional practice as well as students’ achievement during accountability periods. It also explored whether learning communities had democratic principles as their foundations. The study revealed how learning communities had evolved historically, conceptually, and theoretically. It also revealed that with commitment on the part of principals and teachers, and principals distributing leadership, PLCs were very effective in enhancing the knowledge and instructional strategies of teachers, and improving students’ learning. There was a change in the culture of schools that implemented PLCs as the habits and minds of teachers transformed in their day-to-day classrooms activities. Further, the study revealed that through common vision, collective participation in discussion, collective decision making, listening to the views of teachers in their groups, considering minority perspectives, and the opportunities provided for the voices of teachers to be heard exemplified democratic principles in PLCs. I reviewed teacher education/collaboration in several countries: Ethiopia, Namibia, Ghana, Japan, China, and Singapore. Finally, I suggest ways in which PLCs could be harnessed to change teacher professional development if implemented in the Ghanaian educational system to improve teachers’ instructional practice and students’ learning outcomes.