2B IJAG April 2016

International Journal of Administration and Governance ISSN- 2077-4486 Journal home page: http://www.iwnest.com/ IJAG/ 2016. 2(1): 19-24


Professional Learning Community Practices among Teachers in SISC+ Program in Low Performing Schools in Sabah, Malaysia 1Bitty 1School 2Centre

Ansawi and 2Vincent Pang Improvement Specialist Coach+, Tuaran Education Department, Sabah, Malaysia. for the Promotion of Knowledge and Language Learning, Universiti Malaysia Sabah, Malaysia.

Address For Correspondence: Bitty Ansawi, School Improvement Specialist Coach+, Tuaran Education Department, Sabah, Malaysia.

Received 3 March 2016; accepted 26 May 2016; published 5 June 2016

ABSTRACT Background: Professional Learning Community (PLC) is part of the school-based management strategies implemented under the School Improvement Specialist Coach Plus (SISC+) program of the Education Ministry of Malaysia. It promotes organizational learning and collaboration among the teaching professionals. Objective: This study investigates the professional learning community practices of English teachers involved in the SISC+ program. In this descriptive research, survey method using questionnaire is employed to gather information. The Professional Learning Community Scale was developed based on literature review of past studies. The scale comprises six dimensions namely: Shared Values and Mutual Vision, Supporting Condition (Human Relations), Supporting Condition (School Structure), Shared and Supportive Leadership, Collective Learning and its Application, and Shared Personal Practices.. A total of 30 English teachers selected via purposive sampling participated in this study. SPSS 21.0 was used for descriptive statistical analysis. Results: Findings showed that respondents perceived collective learning and its application (mean = 4.139) as the highest dimension, followed by supporting condition - human relationship (mean = 4.133), shared values and mutual vision (mean = 4.024), and shared and supporting leadership (mean = 4.018). The lowest mean score was for supporting condition (mean = 3.944) and shared personal practices (mean = 3.979). Overall, the mean score for professional learning community practices is high (mean = 4.040). This finding suggests that teachers involved in the SISC+ program perceived professional learning community practices positively. Conclusion: It is hoped that with a positive perception, the teachers can proactively transform the schools to become high performing schools in the future. The SISC+ program is considered as a significant change agent to school development. Key words: SISC+, professional learning community

INTRODUCTION The Malaysian education system has paced its efforts to become a centre of excellence for education in the Asian region and at global level in the 21st century. Hence, there have been numerous improvement and total quality management programs implemented to ensure that Malaysia attains a world class education in the eyes of the world [1]. Educational revolution and transformation have taken place in various aspects of the primary and secondary school. In 2013, the Education Ministry introduced the School Improvement Specialist Coach Plus (SISC+) as an initiative under the District Education Office Transformation Program which was implemented in stages in Malaysia. The main intention of SISC+ was to reduce the number of low performing schools (band 4, 5, 6 and 7) in Malaysia to zero. The states of Kedah and Sabah were randomly chosen to spearhead the program. [2]. Open Access Journal Published BY IWNEST Publication © 2016 IWNEST Publisher All rights reserved This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution International License (CC BY). http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

To Cite This Article: Bitty Ansawi and Vincent Pang, Professional Learning Community Practices among Teachers in SISC+ Program in Low Performing Schools in Sabah, Malaysia. Int. J. Adm. Gov, 2(1): 19-24, 2016


Bitty Ansawi and Vincent Pang.,2016 International Journal of Administration and Governance, 2(1) April 2016, Pages: 19-24

The SISC+ program provides support to teachers in their teaching and learning tasks in the classroom by providing solutions to help them to improve the quality of their teaching and learning and eventually, bringing success to the school. The implementation of this program also aims to create a professional learning community in the schools. As explained by Sigurðardóttir [3], they become members of a professional team who share the same purpose and aims, always acquire new knowledge from their interactions among each other with the intention to improve practice [4,5,6,7]. The notion of professional learning community is well accepted in educational policies and practices [8] and associated with research in school development as well as research in professional development [9] and organizational learning [7,10,11]. There is new creation of knowledge that keeps happening in the organization through inquiry practice and collaborative learning [12,13]. Its effective implementation can support students’ learning in school [13]. Hence, it is imperative to ascertain that teachers have high professional learning community practices to support collaborative learning efforts among teachers and ensure improvement in students’ performance. Therefore, this study aims to determine the extent of professional learning community practices of English teachers who are involved in SISC+ program. Literature Review: According to the Malaysian Education Development Plan Annual Report 2013, Malaysia is placed in the one-third bottom among more than 70 nations in PISA 2012 with more than 50% of its 15 year old students not achieving the minimum international standard. Hence, the Malaysian Education Plan (2013-2025), which is a 13 year program was carried out to bring Malaysia to the top one-third in TIMSS and PISA by 2025 [2]. The first wave of this educational transformation was aimed at developing the foundation and deliver changes in the education system performance of this country. The first three years provide support to teachers and increase core skills among the students. The first focus of change is to ensure basic numeracy and literacy through several efforts including increasing teachers’ quality with the provision of more skills and knowledge. The Ministry also focuses efforts to strengthen and empower state and district education offices to support schools to ensure all teachers, school leaders and schools attain a minimal quality standard. The District Transformation Program empowered them with more autonomy in decision making. In 2013, Kedah and Sabah were selected as the pioneer state to implement the SISC+ program. In 2013, the pioneer project showed significant result when both states showed tremendous improvement in national examination. In the second wave of the Government Transformation Program, GTP2.0, full time Specialist Coaches were placed in district education offices. The creation of the SISC+ posts was to fulfill the sixth shift in the Malaysia Education Development 2013-2025, that is to empower the state education departments and district education offices. The SISC+ officers are responsible to guide teachers in pedagogical aspects, school-based management, curriculum and provide direct link from the Ministry to the school [2]. At the core of these transformations, PLC is designed to provide opportunities for educators to perform learner-centered teaching and learning. The theoretical concept of PLC lies in the organizational theory which provides a comprehensible framework for a group in their effort to work together to learn, develop and change. The five diciplines in organization learning which are: personal mastery, mental model, shared vision, team learning and system thinking are almost similar to the basic principles of PLC which include shared mission, vision and values, collective inquiry and action-oriented, collaborative team, commitment towards continuous improvement and decision-oriented [14]. DuFour and Eaker explain that the professional development of teachers should become part of their job and not a focus field or different entity. In their PLC model, school leaders need to address teachers’ improvement tangently, encourages actions such as teachers’ collaboration, dialogue, reflection through organizational structure and expectation, and not just through formal and scheduled professional development experiences [15]. The constructivist perspective on learning also provides the theoretical background to PLC. This implies that professional learning among educators and of the students are not static but a dynamic and ongoing process whereby feedbacks, social interaction and active participation play their roles. The constructivist perspective stated knowledge as actively created by the individual through interaction with the environment and in their efforts to understand life. Hord [16] further stated that constructive learning requires an environment whereby students work collegially and are placed in authentic activities and contexts. Henceforth, this provides three main ideas relating to applicable learning in professional learning for adult in the professional learning community and student learning. These are: inquiry as a learning, learning as a continuous improvement process and learning as a dynamic social process. Another theory that relates closely to PLC is the socio-cultural theory which defines students as an active creator of knowledge within the knowledge structure itself based on social interaction. Knowledge is built and rebuilt among learners in a specific situation, using cultural resources among them, while they work towards collaborative achievement of goals that resulted from their actions [17]. Vygotsky [18] proposed this theory to explain the inter-dependence of social process and individuals in learning. It implies the need for collaborative support that enables learners to process information within their social environment and access to that


Bitty Ansawi and Vincent Pang.,2016 International Journal of Administration and Governance, 2(1) April 2016, Pages: 19-24

information at their individual level later. Active participation becomes one of the crucial elements to enable collaborative process so that learners can construct their own meaning based on the given information. Based on these theories, the teacher as the curriculum implementer in the school must acquire knowledge, skills and competency to implement teaching and learning that are critical for excellent students’ academic achievement. PLC is considered a strategy that ensures knowledge, skills and competencies of the teachers are continuously improved. SISC+ officers are responsible to ensure collaboration with teachers in low performing schools in their efforts towards higher achievement in students’ academic performance. According to Stoll et al. [19], PLC is defined as “a group of people who share and critically assess their practices continuously, reflectively, collaboratively and inclusively, which is learning-oriented and encouraging growth. Therefore, PLC is a community that practices learning culture within their school” (p. 223). PLC as an agent of cultural change in schools has become popular in the past years due to its abiility to build individual and collective capacity that can influence students’ learning [13, 20]. In the Malaysian context, PLC refers to a group of six to 12 teachers who constantly communicate and have discussions about their teaching. The meetings are constantly filled with reflective dialogues regarding students’ learning based on protocol whereby critique acceptance is not personal but meant for students achievement improvement [21]. Hord [12] explained that there are five dimensions of PLC: supportive and shared leadership, shared values and vision focused on students’ learning, collective learning, supportive condition and shared personal practices. Shared values and vision means that the SISC+ and guided subject teachers build a vision that becomes their guideline to make decision particularly relating to teaching and learning. Shared leadership means that the school in PLC shares leadership whereby decisions are mutually made by SISC+ and the teachers within their jurisdiction and authority. Shared decision gives a sense of ownership to that decision. Personal sharing refers to individual efforts to increase self-capacity via discussion and dialogues with other peer teachers. These discussions and dialogues lead to new discoveries that can be shared together. Shared best practice in PLC requires high level of collaborative culture, mutual respect and openness to critiques from peers. Open classes are practiced whereby other teachers can observe and share what is happening in the classroom. Other than that, supportive condition means physical structure and human relationship that are supportive to the creation of PLC practices and cultures. There are very few studies on SISC+ program but the concept of PLC and its practices in educational institutions have been ongoing for quite a long time. Lokman et al. [22] compared PLC practices in Malaysian universities which was participated by 245 academician randomly selected from three university clusters. Their findings showed that PLC has significantly contributed to academic job satisfaction, improved learning via shared and collaborative environment and improved students’ performance. In Borrero’s [23] study, it showed that the monthly PLC workshop was able to increase closeness among colleagues, relationship with school and ownership of the workshop content. The monthly teachers’ discussion about students’ performance led the teachers to be more reliant on their own assessment rather than scores from annual standard tests. Vescio et al. [24] evaluated 11 studies on PLC whereby eight of them investigated the impact of PLC on students’ achievement. All studies [25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32] showed that students’ learning improved due to the implementation of PLC in their schools. Berry et al. [25] in their study on rural schools for four year for instance, showed that before PLC was implemented, only 50% of the students attained or more than their grade level. However, after four years of PLC, the percentage increased to 80%. Phillips [29] also noted drastic change after three years of PLC implementation in a middle hiigh school with an increase from 50% passes in a standard subject field to more than 90% passes. The same result was obtained by Strahan [30] in three low performing elementary schools with an increase from 50% to more than 75% competency in state achievement test. Therefore, Vescio et al. concluded that institutions that embarked on PLC showed tremendous improvement [24]. Research Methodology: This explorative quantitative study used survey method to gather empirical data via questionnaire. The study involved 30 English teachers who were under the guidance of an SISC+ ofifcer in Tuaran, Sabah, Malaysia. The school was also consistently supervised and monitored by the SISC+ officer. The questionnaire used in this study was adapted from Zuraidah et al. [33] which was initially adapted from past studies [3, 5, 34, 35, 36]. There are six dimensions in the 62-item questionnaire which are: Shared Values and Mutual Vision, Supporting Condition (Human Relations), Supporting Condition (School Structure), Shared and Supportive Leadership, Collective Learning and its Application, and Shared Personal Practices. The Alpha Cronbach values for each dimensions and overall PLC Scale yielded more than 0.800, indicating good reliability. The questionnaires were distributed to English teachers under the SISC+ program in identified schools. Data from the questionnaire was analyzed with descriptive analysis using SPSS 21.0. The mean values were used to determine the level of practices to the following categories: low (1.000 - 2.668), moderate (2.669 - 3.668) and high (3.669 - 5.000).


Bitty Ansawi and Vincent Pang.,2016 International Journal of Administration and Governance, 2(1) April 2016, Pages: 19-24

Findings: Based on the summary of demographic data in Table 1, this study was participated by 9 (30%) male and 21 female (70%) English teachers in 10 low performing schools in Tuaran, Sabah. The majority of the teachers (n=21, 70%) were between 30 and 45 years old, while 6.7% were below 30 years old, 16.7 % between 40 and 55 years old and 6.7% more than 55 years old. Based on teaching experience, 46.7% of them have taught for more than 10 years, 26.7% between 6 and 10 years, 10% between 3 and 5 years while 16.7% have taught for less than 3 years. Table 1: Demographic Profiles of the Respondents Demographic Profiles 1. Gender a) Male b) Female 2. Age Range a) Below 30 years old b) 30 - 45 years old c) 40 - 55 years old d) More than 55 years old 3. Teaching Experiences a) Less than 3 years b) 3 - 5 years c) 6 - 10 years d) More than 10 years

Frequency (n)

Percentage (%)

9 21

30.0 70.0

2 21 5 2

6.7 70.0 16.7 6.7

5 3 8 14

16.7 10.0 26.7 46.7

Table 2 presents the mean values and standard deviations for the six dimensions and overall PLC practices. The result shows that all mean values indicated high level of practices for each dimension (mean values > 3.668). The teachers perceived Collective Learning and Its Application the highest dimension (mean = 4.1394) followed by Supporting Condition (Human Relations) (mean = 4.1333), and Shared Values and Mutual Vision (mean = 4.0242). The lower scores were for Shared and Supportive Leadership (mean = 4.0182), Shared Personal Practices (mean = 3.9788) and lastly, Supporting Condition (School Structure) (mean = 3.9444). Overall, PLC practice is perceived highly (mean = 4.0397). Table 2: Means and Standard Deviations of PLC Dimensions Dimensions


1. Shared Values and Mutual Vision 2. Supporting Condition (Human Relations) 3. Supporting Condition (School Structure) 4. Shared and Supportive Leadership 5. Collective Learning and Its Application 6. Shared Personal Practices Overall PLC Practices

4.024 4.133 3.944 4.018 4.139 3.979 4.040

Standard Deviation .559 .531 .561 .580 .510 .567 .475

Practice Level


High High High High High High High

3 2 6 4 1 5

Discussion And Conclusion: The result showed that teachers under the SISC+ guidance in the low performing schools consider professional learning community as highly practiced. The dimension of Collective learning and Its Application has the highest mean score. This dimension portrays the presence of collaborative relationship in the school community which is focused on enhancing the process of information delivery process and decision making based on knowledge. Such collaborative work practices will produce effective curriculum and teaching practices [33]. The lowest practice is about Supporting Condition (School Structure). ‘Structures’ refers to the use of time, communication procedures, size of the institution, proximity of academic staff, and staff development processes [37]. Compared with findings from Zuraidah et al. [33], the practices of teachers found in this study is higher than that of secondary schools in West Malaysia. In their study, shared values, goals, mission and vision was ranked the highest while in this study, it was ranked third. Collective learning and its application which was ranked first in this study was ranked fourth in their study. Both studies showed that shared personal practices were ranked lower. Overall, this study showed that the level of professional learning community is high among the English teachers in these low perfoming schools. The high practice of collective learning and its application implies that teachers welcome the opportunity to share experience and are committed to improve their quality of teaching and learning processes in the classroom. Although the teachers showed high level of practice in their shared values and mutual vision, finding indicating its third rank showed that some aspects need to be scrutinized and improved. There needs to be more collaborative effort to develop shared vision and values among the teachers. Further to that, this study showed that supporting condition in terms of school structure though perceived highly, is ranked the lowest practice among other dimensions. Therefore, efforts should be


Bitty Ansawi and Vincent Pang.,2016 International Journal of Administration and Governance, 2(1) April 2016, Pages: 19-24

more focused to assure that school structures provide the necessary and adequate support for professional learning community practices. The provision of such supporting school structures in terms of facilities, resources and effective communication system will create a conducive climate for teachers’ continuous learning among them. This study showed that teachers in the low performing schools are eager, positive and committed to bring transformation to their schools. By empowering them and actively involving them in collaborative and collegial effort of continuous improvement through PLC, it is not surprising that the SISC+ program will yield positive output in the years to come. Mitchell and Sackney [38] indicate the critical need for teachers’ learning activity to ensure development of school capacity. Rather than relying on school principals as instructional leaders in the school to bring transformation while teachers wait in line to contribute their knowledge, skills, experiences and competence, PLC provides a better vehicle to empower teachers to bring change in their classroom via effective teaching and learning processes. Low performing schools in this district showed potentials for positive change and transformation. This study provides empirical evidence that any school with the intent to achieve excellence must adhere to high practices of PLC. This study showed that numerous transformational programs brought to the school level can accelerate school improvement through collaborative efforts from the teachers themselves. This explorative study is an initial move towards understanding and providing greater insights to the transformational changes happening at school. Further and continuous studies to assess the implementation of PLC such as gaining greater understanding about limitations of school structures and decision-making processes in schools can provide more hindsights to these situations. It is hoped that these efforts will continue to bring the Malaysian education system to its intended mission - to become a recognized world class education centre in this region. REFERENCES [1] Ministry of Education, 2013. Malaysia Education Blueprint Annual Report, Kuala Lumpur: Ministry of Education [2] Ministry of Education, 2015. Assuring Quality Education, Pemandu.gov.my, available at http://www.pemandu.gov.my/gtp/upload/gtp2_eng_cp6.pdf [3] Sigurðardóttir, A.K., 2010. Professional learning community in relation to school effectiveness, Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, 54(5): 395-412. [4] Hord, S., 1997. Professional Learning Communities: Communities of Continuous Inquiry and Improvement, Austin, Texas: Southwest Educational Development Laboratory [5] McLaughlin, M.W. and J.E. Talbert, 2001. Professional communities and the work of high school teaching. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. [6] Louis, K.S., H.M. Marks and S. Kruse, 1996. Teachers’ professional community in restructuring schools. American Educational Research Journal, 33: 757-798. [7] Leithwood, K. and K.S. Louis, (Eds.). 1998. Organizational learning in schools. Lisse, The Netherlands: Swetz & Zeitlinger [8] Hargreaves, A., 2007. Sustainable professional learning communities. In L. Stoll, & K.S. Louis (Eds.), Professional learning communities: Divergence, depth and dilemmas (pp. 181–195). Maidenhead, UK: Open University Press [9] Lieberman, A., 1998. The growth of educational change as a field of study: Understanding its roots and branches. In A. Hargreaves, A. Lieberman, M. Fullan, & D. Hopkins (Eds.), International handbook of educational change (pp. 13–20). London: Kluwer Academic [10] Argyris, C., 2001. Preface. International Journal of Educational Management, 15(2): 56-57. [11] Senge, P., 1990. The fifth discipline. London: Random House. [12] Hord, S.M., (Ed.). 2004. Learning together—Leading together: Changing schools through learning communities. New York: Teachers College Press [13] Stoll, L. and Louis, K.S. (Eds.), 2007. Professional learning communities: Divergence, depth, and dilemmas. Glasgow: The McGraw-Hill companies [14] DuFour, R. and R. Eaker, 1998. Professional learning communities at work: Best practices for enhancing student achievement. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. [15] Parry, G., 2007. Improving teacher effectiveness through structured collaboration: A case study of a professional learning community. Research in Middle Level Education Online, 31(1). [16] Hord, S., 2009. Professional learning communities: Educators work together toward a shared purpose. Journal of Staff Development, 30(1): 40-43. [17] Wells, G., 2001. The case for dialogic inquiry. In G. Wells (Ed.), Action, talk, and text: Learning and teaching through inquiry, pp: 171-194. New York: Teachers College Press [18] Vygotsky, L., 1978. Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press


Bitty Ansawi and Vincent Pang.,2016 International Journal of Administration and Governance, 2(1) April 2016, Pages: 19-24

[19] Stoll, L., R. Bolam, A. McMahon, M. Wallace, A. Greenwood and K. Hawkey, 2006. Professional Learning Communities, Source Materials for School Leaders and Other Leaders of Professional Learning. London: Innovation Unit, DfES, NCSL and GTCe. www.standards.dfes.gov.uk/innovationunit/collaboration/2127523/?version=1 [20] Eaker, R.E., R. DuFour and R. Burnette, 2002. Getting started reculturing schools to become professional learning communities. Bloomington, IN: National Educational Service [21] Yendol, D., 2010. Komuniti Pembelajaran Profesional, Buletin SIPartners, available at: http://www.assafii.com/v2/index.php/en/pengurusan-kurikulum/pengurusan-panitia/196-komunitipembelajaran-profesional [22] Lokman, M.T., H.M.S. Mohd Nihra, A. Mohd Fazli, A.S. Narina, D. Khadijah and M. Taisa Hidaya, 2013. Examining the professional learning community practices: an empirical comparison from Malaysian universities clusters, Procedia - Scoail and Behavioral Science, 97: 105-113. [23] Borrero, N., 2010. Urban school connections: A university-K-8 partnership. Catholic Education: A Journal of Inquiry and Practice, 14(1): 47-66. [24] Vescio, V., D. Ross and A. Adams, 2008. A review of research on the impact of professional learning communities on teaching practice and student learning. Teaching and Teacher Education, 24(1): 80-91. [25] Berry, B., D. Johnson and D. Montgomery, 2005. The power of teacher leadership [electronic version]. Educational Leadership, 62(5): 56. [26] Bolam, R., A. McMahon, L. Stoll, S. Thomas and M. Wallace, 2005. Creating and sustaining professional learning communities. Research Report Number 637. London, England: General Teaching Council for England, Department for Education and Skills. [27] Hollins, E.R., L.R. McIntyre, C. DeBose, K.S. Hollins and A. Towner, 2004. Promoting a self-sustaining learning community: Investigating an internal model for teacher development. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 17(2): 247-264. [28] Louis, K.S. and H.M. Marks, 1998. Does professional learning community affect the classroom? Teachers’ work and student experiences in restructuring schools. American Journal of Education, 106(4): 532-575. [29] Phillips, J., 2003. Powerful learning: Creating learning communities in urban school reform. Journal of Curriculum and Supervision, 18(3): 240-258. [30] Strahan, D., 2003. Promoting a collaborative professional culture in three elementary schools that have beaten the odds. The Elementary School Journal, 104(2): 127-146. [31] Supovitz, J.A., 2002. Developing communities of instructional practice. Teachers College Record, 104(8): 1591-1626. [32] Supovitz, J.A. and J.B. Christman, 2003. Developing communities of instructional practice: Lessons for Cincinnati and Philadelphia. CPRE Policy Briefs pp. 1–9. Pennsylvania: University of Pennsylvania [33] Zuraidah Abdullah, Rahimah Ahmad, Muhammad Faizal Ab. Ghani and Hailan Salamun, 2012. Komuniti pembelajaran profesional dalam kalangan warga sekolah menengah di Malaysia, IPBL [34] Hipp, K.K. and J.B. Huffman, 2003. Professional Learning Communities: Assessment-DevelopmentEffects. Paper presented at the International Congress for School Effectiveness and Improvement: Sydney [35] Hord, S.M., 1999. Assessing a school staff as a community of professional learners. Issues about change, 7 [A series of papers published by Southwest Educational Development Laboratory (SEDL) in Austin in Texas]. TX: Southwest Educational Development Laboratory [36] Louis, K.S., H.M. Marks and S. Kruse, 1996. Teachers’ professional community in restructuring schools. American Educational Research Journal, 33: 757-798. [37] Hord, S.M., 1997. Professional learning communities: Communities of continuous inquiry and improvement. Austin, Texas: Southwest Educational Development Laboratory. [38] Mitchell, C. and L. Sackney, 2000. Profound improvement: Building capacity for a learning community. Lisse, The Netherlands: Swetz & Zeitlinger.


2B IJAG April 2016

International Journal of Administration and Governance ISSN- 2077-4486 Journal home page: http://www.iwnest.com/ IJAG/ 2016. 2(1): 19-24 RSEARCH ARTI...

114KB Sizes 3 Downloads 31 Views

Recommend Documents

No documents