Learning together : a quantitative examination of inter-district collaboration in a community of practice.


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This quantitative study examined school district leaders’ engagement in a community of practice and reported the relationship between inter-district collaboration and school district leaders’ learning and changes in professional learning efficacy. The theoretical framework involved Wenger’s (1998) Community of Practice theory and the Standards for Professional Learning (Learning Forward, 2011). The study participants were members of Learning Forward’s Design Professional Learning for a Virtual World (DPLV): A Redesign Professional Development Community of Practice. They shared a commitment to addressing systemwide teaching and learning challenges. This study answered three questions. First, what is the relationship between the community of practice dimensions (shared repertoire, joint enterprise, mutual engagement) and individual school district leaders’ learning? Second, do school district leaders’ perceptions of shared repertoire, joint enterprise, and mutual engagement change after CoP participation? Third, do school district leaders’ professional learning efficacy (knowledge, skills, and leadership behaviors) change after CoP participation? The researcher hypothesized that each asset of the CoP positively associated with individual school district leaders’ learning. Also, after CoP participation, school district leaders would demonstrate increased shared repertoire, joint enterprise, mutual engagement, and professional learning efficacy. The researcher used a non-probabilistic purposive sampling procedure and conducted the quantitative analysis using Pearson’s r and paired-samples t-tests. Data collection occurred using a 20-item survey distributed in December 2020 at the beginning of the CoP and in May 2021 after participation. The survey measured the link between CoP engagement and learning (Neufeld et al., 2013), CoP experience (RFL, 2016, 2017), and professional learning efficacy (Hirsh et al., 2018; Killion, 2013, 2013a; Learning Forward, 2011, 2013). Analysis revealed strong and statistically significant correlations between shared repertoire, joint enterprise, mutual engagement, and individual school district leaders’ learning. School district leaders’ perceptions of each CoP characteristic showed a statistically significant increase with very large effect sizes. The statistically significant changes in school district leaders’ professional learning efficacy also had a very large effect size. This study demonstrated that an inter-district CoP provided participating district leaders with the necessary focus, guidance, and shared accountability to improve their professional learning knowledge, skills, and leadership behaviors.



Collaboration. Community of practice. Correlation. Inter-district. Network. Professional learning.