Education and Human Sciences, College of (CEHS)


Date of this Version



A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Major: Educational Studies, Under the Supervision of Professor Marilyn L. Grady. Lincoln, Nebraska: October, 2010

Copyright 2010 Marlie Williams


This qualitative study explored the impact of teacher collaboration in a professional learning communities (PLC) school on teacher self-efficacy. Through the collection and analysis of personal interview data from 20 teachers in a large, suburban Midwestern high school, the impact of structured teacher collaboration was evaluated for its impact on changes in teachers’ instructional practices, their feelings of responsibility for student learning, positive adult interdependence, and changes in teacher self-efficacy. Experts in educational professional development identify the importance of sustained, collegial learning. This study explored the structure of one high school’s professional collaboration model, the measures in place for goal-setting, action research, implementation of instructional strategies, and reflection and evaluation of strategy success. Qualitative data were collected through personal interviews from 20 participants of varying levels of teaching experience, with participants representing content areas. Data from these interviews was organized and shared as it related to each of three common themes that emerged during data analysis: collaboratively developed mission, vision, values, and goals; the positive interdependence of teachers; and a focus on continuous improvement. Data from each of these themes are shared separately. An in-depth look at teacher perceptions, including an explanation of the school’s collaborative professional learning structure is provided. The findings of this qualitative study demonstrated a structured approach to teacher collaboration with a focus on student learning outcomes is necessary to note gains in teacher self-efficacy. The data also revealed that a system of shared leadership increased the efficiency of the collaboration model in this school’s PLC structure.