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Learning in Practice: Exploring the Use of Plan-Do-Study-Act Cycles to Support Professional Learning


The current dissertation is an examination of the micro and macro-level processes teachers engage through the course of professional learning. In this research I sought to understand the ways in which teachers used Plan-Do-Study-Act cycles as a tool to support their learning in the context of a school-wide literacy improvement effort. In this three-study dissertation, I draw on data collected over the course of two academic years, beginning in 2013. I approach this research from a participatory design lens to investigate teachers’ collaborative learning opportunities in practice-driven design work and examine the use of PDSA cycles as a tool for improvement. I explore the use PDSAs to support the iterative refinement of instructional practices in the context of localized design work.

I begin the dissertation with an examination of a group of science teachers who sought to improve science literacy over the course of the 2013-2014 school year. In the second study I investigate the use of PDSAs through the documentation practices of a group of second and third grade dual language teachers over the 2014-2015 school year. In my third investigation I return to the science team, this time with a focused examination on teacher learning for two of the science teachers. Here my goal was to understand how PDSAs contributed, or constrained, their broader conceptions of science learning.

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