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The Relationship Between Professional Learning Communities (PLC) And Teachers Self-Efficacy

Lim Jin Ni

Abstract
This study explored the relationship between teacher efficacy and professional learning communities. This study
utilizes quantitative aspect of 100 teachers from a mix of secondary and primary school. Banduras (1986) social
cognitive learning theory of self-efficacy is used as the framework for the construct of self-efficacy. Hords
(1997) dimensions of professional learning community served as the framework for the exploration of
professional learning communities for this study. Two survey instruments were utilized to assess whether a
relationship exists between teachers perceptions of professional learning community specifically in terms of
collective learning and application and teachers self-efficacy beliefs in terms of maintaining a positive
classroom climate. A Pearson correlation was calculated for the data.
Keywords: professional learning community, teacher efficacy, collaboration, beliefs, capabilities, professional
development
Introduction
21st century education is marked by the globalization and technological advances, making classroom
practices have undergone rapid changes to accommodate the current needs and demands of education
stakeholders. With the increase in workload and high expectation of students achievement and the objective of
making lessons relevant to students, many tasks will be burdensome on a teacher if they are carried out
individually with just only their pre-service training. The daunting tasks if tackled individually, may reduce
teachers effectiveness and their self-efficacy that could de-motivate teachers causing burnt out cases an
inadvertently affect students learning process and their achievements. Hence, it is important to have a support
group to train, provide continuous professional development, motivate and help teachers to overcome the
challenges they may face in their teaching profession and help them keep up with the rapid education evolution
that is taking place. Therefore, professional development especially professional learning communities (PLC)
play an important role to provide support and cooperation among teachers to collaborate and make their
professional burden lighter and improve their effectiveness though mutual cooperation. However, according to
the TALIS report (OECD, 2009) teachers in TALIS countries on average participated for just under one day a
month in professional development.
The purpose of this study is to examine the teachers perception of the effectiveness of Professional
Learning Community in improving their capabilities as a teacher. The second purpose is to explore the
relationship between professional learning communities and teacher sense of efficacy.
1.1 Professional learning communities (PLC)
According to DuFour, Dufour, Eaker and Many (2006) Professional Learning Community (PLC) can
be described as teams of educators working collaboratively through inquiry and action research to improve their
students achievements. Through this community, when teachers work together, they are able to achieve
objectives that may not be achievable individually. This professional group of teachers will share and interact
with each other to study and reflect on their classroom practices and provide an environment of emotional
support and cooperativeness. Hence, PLCs are viewed as the backbone for educational institutions to achieve
success in the educational plans that are carried out (Kristmanson, Lafargue & Culligan , 2011). When a PLC
has shared values and vision, members of PLC can collaborate and support each other to achieve the common
educational objective.
There are many benefits of PLC. In a study by Louis and Marks(1998), when there is a PLC in schools
teacher can expect better students achievements, the quality of classroom teaching is improved and there is an
increase in achievement levels as well as the improvement in students reliance on their peers and teacher to
help them achieve educational goals. There is a significant impact on teachers effectiveness and learners
achievement. This is further supported by Berlinger-Gustafson (2004) which highlights that with the
establishment of a professional learning community, teacher isolation can be reduced which increasing teachers
commitment and responsibility, motivation as well as their job satisfaction. With this is can also reduce teachers
absenteeism rate. These in turn generate a positive impact on students where it can decrease students
absenteeism and drop out rates. Students are also able to learn and perform better and thus have better
achievement in schools. This is also pointed out the TALIS report (OECD, 2009) , which states that professional
development can help foster collaboration and cooperation among teachers can affect their beliefs and practices

as well as have significant impact on school quality. Most of ``these professional developments are implemented
at school level through in-house training as a group.
According to Hord (1997) there are 5 characteristic of professional learning communities such as
supportive and shared leadership, shared value and vision, collective inquiry, supportive conditions and shared
personal practices. Professional learning communities should have a shared leadership that offers support. The
community have a set of visions and values that is shared and believed and also offers ample opportunities of
collective learning and application. In here it has a supportive environment to build up each other and there is a
culture of sharing personal instructional practices to help each other overcome the obstacles that the members
may face in their teaching profession. According to DuFour(2004) there are 3 big ideas that guide the principals
of professional learning communities. The first idea take into consideration which ensures that students are
learning. Secondly, it should have a culture of collaboration and the final idea focuses on results.
1.2 Teacher Self-Efficacy
Badura (1997) states that the students competencies are dependent on the talents and self-efficacy of
the teachers. Teachers self-efficacy belief is the belief that one possesses the ability to perform several actions
and achieved the desired result. There are four sources of efficacy such as Mastery efficacy, vicarious
experiences, social persuasion and reduced stress and negative emotions. Teacher can increase their selfefficacy belief if they have successful past experiences which gives them confidence in their capability to carry
out their tasks. If they are part of a group of teachers who shares their practices and support each other, their
efficacy can be increased. Teachers self efficacy can be cultivated through more opportunities for collaboration
with their colleagues (Hoy et al, 1998). This is further supported by Smith and Knight(1993) cited from Nolan
(2009) which states that teachers cooperation by participation in study team is related to higher sense of teacher
efficacy. This shows that personal learning communities can increase teacher efficacy Porter(2014). This in turn
can impact teachers instruction and teaching practices in class and also further impact their students in terms of
learning achievements.
A high sense of self-efficacy among teachers will generate higher expectations of students learning,
greater accountability towards students and a positive attitude towards teaching and influencing students
learning process (Ashton, 1984). This is because teachers have more confidence in their capabilities and are
motivated to carry out their job well.
As the sense of self efficacy has such great impact on teachers and their instructional practices and
motivation, it is undeniable that it will further impact their students. Hence, teacher efficacy should be cultivated
through professional learning communities as it can improve their self-efficacy belief through the collaborative
and supportive characteristics of professional learning communities.
1.3 Professional Learning Communities and Teacher Efficacy
TALIS reports that teachers who exchange ideas and pedagogical skills with other teachers reports
positive teacher-students in school (OECD, 2009) This will create a positive classroom climate that will
facilitate teaching and learning which will have a positive effect of students achievement. In is important to
build teachers on their classroom management skills, as disciplinary issues or a negative classroom climate can
affect the teaching and learning process. Hence, professional learning communities is very useful in giving
teachers support and help teachers learn skills of classroom management through feedback and encouragement.
According to TALIS, more teacher development is associated with greater teacher self efficacy. When teachers
are able to do their job well, their self-efficacy beliefs will increase and this will too boost their job satisfaction
(OECD, 2009) and they will more confident and have greater sense of accountability towards their students and
profession.
1.4 Purpose of the study
The purpose of this study is to examinine the teachers perception of the effectiveness of Profesional
Learning Community in improving their capabilities as a teacher. The second purpose is to explore the
relationship between professional learning communities and teacher sense of efficacy. If PLC is associated with
teacher self-efficacy beliefs, then the results of the present study can be used in PLC strategies planning and be
used to improving the teaching and learning outcomes in schools. Specifically, school teachers who are teaching
in primary and secondary school in Penang are selected as the sample of this study.
The research questions of this study are :
1. What is teachers perception of PLC effectiveness in improving their capabilities as teachers?
2. Is there a significant relationship between PLC and teachers self-efficacies beliefs?
2.0 Methodology
In order examine the relationship between professional learning communities and teacher sense of
efficacy, a survey design was used. This method is used as it involves data collected directly from a large
sample size of respondents with their confidentiality assured. It is also less expensive and easier to conduct and

at the same time require less time (Gay, Mills & Arisian, 2012) . A combination of two questionnaires were
used to study these constructs.
2.1 Quantitative Research
The Professional Learning Communities Survey Revised (Olivier et al., 2008) was used to assess the
Professional Learning community and the Teacher Efficacy Belief System-Self (TEBS-S) by Dellinger (2001).
was used to measure teachers perceptions of their own teachers self-efficacy beliefs. PLC construct is
narrowed to Collective Learning and Application while the construct for Teachers Self-Efficacy Belief System
was narrowed down to teachers self-efficacy of maintaining a positive classroom climate. The survey
instrument consisted of a total of 20 items and and a 4 point Likert scale between 1-4 . For the10 items on
PLCA-R construct the 4 point Likert scale is represented by 1= strongly disagree, 2= disagree, 3= agree and 4=
strongly agree. On the other hand, the Teacher Efficacy Belief System-Self (TEBS-S) has a 4-point scale which
refers to 1= weak beliefs in my ability, 2= somewhat strong beliefs in my ability, 3= strong beliefs in my ability,
and 4= very strong beliefs in my ability. Chronbach Alpha for each construct Collective Learning and
Application in the Professional Learning Communities Assessment is 0.91 while the reported Cronbachs alpha
coefficients reported for the Teachers Self-Efficacy Belief System in relation to Maintaining a Positive
Classroom Climate is 0.61.
2.2 Participants
The sample size consisted of 100 teachers from both primary and secondary schools in Penang. 29 of
the teachers were from primary school and 71 respondents were from secondary schools. Out of the 100
respondents, 31 respondents have between 1-5 years experience, 38 with 6 to 10 years of teaching experience
and 13 with teaching experience between 11 and 20 years. There were 18 respondents with teaching experience
between 21-30 years.
2.3 Data Analysis
Data from each section are analysed using SPSS 21. Descriptive statistical analyses was performed on
the sample group using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) to obtain a clear understanding of the
population. This includes the measures of central tendency (means, medians, and other percentiles) and
dispersion (standard deviations). A correlational research was used to determine if there is a relationship
between the variables to see if a relationship exist between between PLC and teachers self-efficacies beliefs.

3.0 Findings
a) Teachers perception of PLC effectiveness in improving their capabilities as teachers
Based on a descriptive analysis, of the 100 respondents that answered the question 78.0% (N=78)
indicated that professional learning community is effective in improving their capabilities as teacher. 22.0%
(N=22) reported that PLC did not have a positive impact in improving their capabilities as teachers.
This is supported by the findings of the PLC survey with M= 2.63, SD =0.45. Below are statements
which most teachers found very agreeable in relation to Professional Learning Communities. 3 of the items
scoring the highest means are as below:
Mean
Standard Deviation
Staff members engage in dialogue that reflects a respect for
2.70
1.01
diverse ideas that lead to continued inquiry
Staff members collaboratively analyze multiple sources of
2.85
1.02
data to assess the effectiveness of instructional practices.
Staff members collaboratively analyze student work to
2.80
0.93
improve teaching and learning
Table 1 : 3 highest means showing items with strong agreement
Teachers agree that Professional Learning Community serves great purpose in collectively analyzing
multiple sources of data to assess the effectiveness of instructional practices followed by analysing students
work to improve teaching and learning while they engage in dialogue that reflects respect for diverse ideas that
lead to continued inquiry.
Below are 2 items with the lowest mean below the average mean of 2.63 which indicates disagreement
to the statements.
Mean
Standard Deviation

Staff members work together to seek knowledge, skills and


2.40
0.87
strategies and apply this new learning to their work.
A variety of opportunities and structures exist for collective
2.45
0.92
learning through open dialogue.
Table 2: 2 lowest means showing items with strong disagreement
Teachers do no really agree that they can work together to seek knowledge, skills and strategies and
apply new learning into their work. There is also disagreement to the statement of a variety of opportunities and
structures exists for collective learning through open dialogue.
b) Relationship between PLC and teachers self-efficacies belief
Given that the 4 point Likert scale indicates 1=weak beliefs in my ability, 2=somewhat strong beliefs in my
ability, 3=strong beliefs in my ability, and 4=very strong beliefs in my ability, the average mean for teachers
self efficacies belief is 2.86 with SD = 0.36. The questions which score above the mean are as below indicating
strong beliefs in teachers ability.
Mean
Standard Deviation
Effectively manage routines and procedures for learning tasks
2.95
0.67
Maintain high levels of student engagement in learning tasks
2.90
.77
Manage student discipline/behaviour
3.05
.93
Maintain a classroom environment in which students work 2.90
.77
cooperatively
Successfully maintain a positive classroom climate
3.05
0.59
Table 3 : 5 items with the highest means showing strong beliefs in teachers ability
Teachers have strongest beliefs in their ability of successfully maintaining a positive classroom climate
and manage student discipline and behavior which has the highest mean score at 3.05.
To determine if there is a relationship between professional learning communities on teacher selfefficacy beliefs, a Pearsons correlation was used. A Pearsons r is used to measure the linear correlation
between the two variables. Perfect correlation will be represented by the R-value of 1 while 0 indicates no
correlation.
Professional
Learning
Teacher Self-Efficacy
Communities
Pearson Correlation
1
.293**
Professional Learning
Sig. (2-tailed)
.003
Communities
N
100
100
Pearson Correlation
.293**
1
Teacher Self-Efficacy
Sig. (2-tailed)
.003
N
100
100
Table 4 : Pearson Correlation of PLCA-R and TEBS-S
A correlation analyses was used to examine the relationship between Professional Learning
Communities and teacher self-efficacy beliefs. There is a significant and low positive correlation between
Professional Learning Communities and Teacher Self-Efficacy in the population, r(98)=0.293, p<0.01,
r2=0.085.8.58% of the variance in Professional Learning Communites scores are associated with the variance of
Teacher Self-Efficacy scores.

4. Discussion
Based on this study many teacher agree that Professional Learning Communities
do improving their capabilities as teachers. This is in line with Louis and Marks(1998) statement of when there
is a professional Learning community in schools teacher can expect better students achievements, the quality of
classroom teaching is improved . This is also supported by Reeves (2011) which states that with PLC
implementation, there will be an increase with teachers knowledge , efficacy, instructional practices and
students achievements.
While teachers have disagree to the statement that staff members work together
to seek knowledge, skills and strategies and apply this new learning to their work as well as the statement that a
variety of opportunities and structures exist for collective learning through open dialogue, I would suggest that
this disagreement could indicate that teachers do not get a lot of opportunities to have open dialogue and get
together to discuss and seek knowledge. There could be several factors for this and I would like to suggest that
conflict with work schedule as was also pointed out in the TALIS report (OECD,2009) to be a possible factor.
Professional Community Meeting that clashes with teachers lessons and requires them to leave early or forgo it

could be the cause of the lack of opportunities for open dialogue. Besides, time constraint and challenges to be
able to meet for more meetings as a Professional Learning Community could be among them. As pointed out by
TALIS report, conflicting work schedules is a barrier for not engaging in more professional discourse.
```However, further study should be carried out to indentify the cause of the lack of opportunities of open
dialogue and to work together to discuss and apply new skills.
Based on the correlation analysis carried out, there is indeed a positive relationship between PLC and
teachers self-efficacies belief. Through PLC teachers can increase their self-efficacy and promote positive
classroom climate through their confidence in the capabilities. Among the most prominent relationship between
PLC and teachers self-efficacy, teachers have more confidence in their capability of successfully maintaining
positive classroom climate, maintaining a classroom environment in which students work
cooperatively,maintaining high levels of studens engagement in learning tasks, effectively manage routines and
procedures for learning tasks and managing students behaviour. Therefore, this is in agreement with
Porters(2014) stand that personal learning communities can increase teacher efficacy. A high sense of selfefficacy among teachers will generate higher expectations of students learning, greater accountability towards
students and a positive attitude towards teaching and influencing students learning process (Ashton, 1984).
5. Conclusion
In conclusion, it is undeniable that Professional Learning Communities is vital in increasing Teacher
Self Efficacy. Teachers themselves are realizing the importance of this collaborative measure to increase
effectiveness and have also highlighted areas that should be looked into such as more opportunities for them to
work together and apply new knowledge as well as having more occasions for open dialogue.
It is also proven in this study that there is a significant positive relationship between Professional
Learning Community and Teacher Self Efficacy which can improve teachers instructional strategies and
students learning outcomes.
Therefore, here are a few suggestions that could help maximize the benefits of Professional Learning
Communities on Teacher Self Efficacy.In order to take on the issues where teachers to are not able to work
together to seek knowledge , skills and strategies and apply new learning in their work as well as the lack of
opportunities to have open dialogue, one suggestion to overcome this issue is to give teacher allocated time for
Professional Community Meetings that it does not coincide with their lessons. Secondly, the school can
organize more sharing sessions for teachers to share their professional knowledge. The school should also create
a friendly and safe space for sharing during Professional Community meetings. Finally, teachers could also
overcome the lack of opportunities to discuss and share for Professional Learning Communities by utilizing
social media platforms and online video conferencing.
In short, there are many benefits to having Professional Learning Communities because it can Increase
Teacher efficacy. With high level of self efficacy, teachers are more confident in their pedagogical knowledge
and are able to be of greater impact of students learning outcomes. Hence, Professional Learning Community
must be promoted in the education field for its educators to greatly increase their efficacy and effectiveness.

References
Ashton, P. (1984). Teacher efficacy: A motivational paradigm for effective teacher
education. Journal of Teacher Education 35(5), pp. 28-32.
Bandura, A. (1997). Self-Efficacy: The exercise of control. New York: W.H. Freeman & Company.
Bandura, A. (1986). Social foundations of thought and action: A social cognitive theory. Englewood
Cliffs, NJ: Prentice- Hall.
Berlinger-Gustafson, C. (2004). Building professional learning communities. Paper presented at
the meeting in support of the Florida Professional Development System Evaluation
Protocol.

Dellinger, A.B., (2001). A study of the measurement and sources of teachers self and collective
efficacy beliefs in professional learning environments. Dissertation,Louisiana State
University.
DuFour, R. (2004). What is a professional learning community? Educational
Leadership 61(8), 6-11
DuFour, R., DuFour, R., Eaker, R., & Many, T. (2006). Learning by doing: A
handbook for professional learning communities at work. Bloomington: Solution Tree .
Gay, L. R., Mills, G. E., & Airasia, P. W. (2012). Educational Research:
Competencies For Analysis And Applications
Hord, S.M. (1997b). Professional learning communities: What are they and why are they important?
Issuesabout Change, 6 (1), Austin, TX: Southwest Educational Development Laboratory.
Hoy, W., Hoy, A. & Tschannen-Moran, M. (1998). Teacher efficacy: Its meaning and measure.
Review of Educational Research, 68 (2), 202-248.
Kristmanson, P. L., Lafargue, C., & Culligan, K. (2011). From Action to Insight: A
Professional Learning Community's Experiences with the European Language
Portfolio. The Canadian Journal of Applied Linguistics,14(2), 53.
Louis, K., & Marks, H. (1998). Does professional community affect the classroom?
Teachers' work and student experiences in restructuring schools. American Journal of Education, 532575
Nolan, D. (2009). A STUDY OF THE RELATIONSHIP OF TEACHERSSELFEFFICACY AND THE IMPACT OF PROFESSIONAL LEARNING COMMUNITY AS AN
ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE(Doctoral dissertation, Louisiana Tech University).
Olivier, D., & Hipp, K. (2008). Assessing and analyzing schools as PLCs. In K. Hipp,
& J.Huffman, Professional learning communities: Purposeful actions, positive results. Lanham:
Rowman & Littlefield.
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. (2009). Creating
effective teaching and learning environments: First results from TALIS. Paris: OECD.
Porter, T. (2014). Professional Learning Communities and Teacher Self-Efficacy
(Doctoral dissertation, George Fox University).
Reeves, D. B. (2011). Finding your leadership focus: What matter most for student
results. New York: Teachers College Press.

Appendix
The Effectiveness Of Professional Learning Communities (PLC) On Teachers Self Efficacy Beliefs
Directions:
This questionnaire assesses your perceptions about professional learning community (PLC) and your Selfefficacy . Read each statement and then use the scale below to select the scale point that best reflects your
personal degree of agreement with the statement. Circle one response that reflects you the best.
1.Gender :
Male
Female
2.Race :
Malay
Chinese
Indian
Others
3. School :
Primary
Secondary
4. Years of Professional Teaching:
1-5
6-10
11-20
21-30
31 or Above
5: Do you think PLC is effective in improving your capabilities as a teacher?
Yes
No

Professional Learning Communities Assessment


Scale:
1 =Strongly Disagree (SD)
2 = Disagree (D)
3 = Agree (A)
4 - Strongly Agree (SA)

1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8

Collective Learning and Application


Staff members work together to seek knowledge, skills and strategies
and apply this new learning to their work.
Collegial relationships exist among staff members that reflect
commitment to school improvement efforts.
Staff members plan and work together to search for solutions to address
diverse student needs.
A variety of opportunities and structures exist for collective learning
through open dialogue.
Staff members engage in dialogue that reflects a respect for diverse
ideas that lead to continued inquiry
Professional development focuses on teaching and learning.
School staff members and stakeholders learn together and apply new
knowledge to solve problems.
School staff members are committed to programs that enhance learning.

SD
1

D
2

A
3

SA
4

1
1

2
2

3
3

4
4

9
10

Staff members collaboratively analyze multiple sources of data to assess


the effectiveness of instructional practices.
Staff members collaboratively analyze student work to improve
teaching and learning.

TEACHER'S SELF-EFFICACY BELIEF SYSTEM SELF (TEBS-S)


Response scale:
1. Weak beliefs in my capabilities
2. Moderate beliefs in my capabilities
3. Strong beliefs in my capabilities
4. Very strong beliefs in my capabilities
Maintaining a Positive Classroom Climate

Weak

Moderate

Strong

11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18

Use allocated time for activities that maximize learning


Effectively manage routines and procedures for learning tasks
Clarify directions for learning routines
Maintain high levels of student engagement in learning tasks
Redirect students who are persistently off task
Maintain a classroom climate of courtesy and respect
Maintain a classroom climate that is fair and impartial
Manage student discipline/behaviour

1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1

2
2
2
2
2
2
2
2

3
3
3
3
3
3
3
3

Very
strong
4
4
4
4
4
4
4
4

19

Maintain a classroom environment in which students work


cooperatively
Successfully maintain a positive classroom climate

20

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