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Tan, Jason, 1962-
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The concept of Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) originated in the Anglo-American context more than two decades ago, and researchers have embraced it as a means to raise teacher competencies and classroom practices. In Singapore, PLC was implemented as a state-led initiative in 2010. Globalization has resulted in the global trend of transnational borrowing and lending in education, and although the implementation of PLC has been extensively borrowed and implemented in many countries, practices and how the concepts are defined, understood and implemented can vary differently across cultural context, and are mediated by other contextual needs and demands of each school. The purpose of this research is to understand school practitioners’ perspectives on PLC as a professional development model, as well as to explore and discuss the extent of how Singapore’s school context and the broader Asian cultural context characterized by large power distance (hierarchical structures and authoritarian leadership) and collectivism may have shaped the way PLC practices are enacted in the Singapore context. Adopting Hipp and Huffman’s five PLC dimensions (Hipp & Huffman, 2010) and Hofstede’s (2001) cultural dimensions, this study employs an exploratory case study approach to explain how contextual factors can influence the way PLCs are enacted and the experiences of educational practitioners.

The findings revealed that the concentration of authority and centralized decision-making structures typical of societies with large power distance, served as a leverage in enabling schools to set up effective structures and norms for PLC collaboration. In addition, the paternalistic form of leadership appears to have developed teachers’ trust and respect for their school leaders. This may have led to teachers feeling a strong sense of autonomy and shared leadership, although empowerment in decision-making was generally constrained to their core work of teaching and lesson planning. In the area of Collective Learning and Application, teachers felt that PLC provided rich learning experiences through various collaborative platforms of sharing, discussion and classroom implementation, although the use of inquiry tools such as Lesson Study and Action Research was simplified. This study identifies the collectivistic culture of Asian societies as a key enabler to develop strong collegial and interdependent relationships, which encouraged openness and objectivity in PLC discourse. The dimension of Shared Personal Practices through lesson observations is still at an infant stage of development due to issues such as time constraint, timetable clashes, and more significantly, the fear of judgment and evaluation. There were differences with the Western-conceived model of PLC.
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LB1731 Tan
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Appears in Collections:Doctor in Education (Ed.D.)

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