Date of Award

Summer 2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Committee Chair

Stephen Laws


This study was prompted by a desire to understand the perceptions of teachers on the characteristics of effective professional learning communities (PLCs) at the high school level. Data were collected via survey and focus group interviews to answer questions regarding barriers high school PLCs face as well as what effective PLCs look like at the high school level. The survey population included 122 high school teachers currently involved in PLCs in one school district in the upstate of South Carolina. Survey questions were on a Likert scale that assessed three areas regarding the effectiveness of PLCs: critical elements, human resources, and structural conditions. Follow-up focus group interviews further investigated teacher perceptions on defining effective PLCs, contributions PLCs have on student achievement, and barriers to effective PLCs. The study was grounded in Knowles and Holton’s (2005) and Drago-Severson’s (2021) adult learning theories. Key findings in the study are in line with the current body of research on adult learning theories and the characteristics of effective PLCs (Drago-Severson, 2021; DuFour et al., 2016; Knowles & Holton, 2005). In order for PLCs to be effective, teachers shared the importance of proper structural conditions such as: accountability, time, and an agenda. They shared the desire to work collaboratively using data to drive instructional practices and work toward a common goal. They want to have a voice and a choice in what they do within the PLC. The findings of this study may contribute to empirical research on the effectiveness of PLCs as well as how to overcome specific barriers that exist at the high school level.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License