How Teacher Collaboration Time Provides Opportunity for Social Capital Development in Teacher Professional Learning Communities

Ronald Matthew Fay, University of Pennsylvania


In the 1980s and 1990s, educational leaders relied heavily on the external expert to provide new knowledge for their teachers. In 2000, there was a shift, when educational leaders began to look internally for process and structures for teacher development. System leaders overwhelmingly supported the movement toward systemic teacher collaboration. The shift to internal teacher development via professional learning communities (PLCs) presented challenges for school system leaders, specifically in the area of design and utility of a structure that maximizes the assets of all teachers. Gaps in the extant literature include a design feature for dedicated non- instructional time for teacher collaboration. The current study builds upon previous research of professional learning communities, teacher knowledge development, and the utilization of time, and adds to the research literature a structure for utilizing collaborative teacher planning time to enrich the knowledge, skills, and abilities of teachers within a school setting. Using a comparative case study, I explored the intersection of social capital (patterns of interactions among teachers) and the development of human capital (teacher knowledge, skills, and abilities) within a collaborative professional learning community. The three cases included 13 participants from three 9th grade content areas: math, English, and science. The data sources included personal interviews, focus groups, observations, and participant journals. Results of the comparative case study suggest teachers with additional planning time had the propensity to develop the necessary attributes to access and utilize the social capital more frequently than those teachers who had less collaborative planning time. Implications of this research involve prioritizing collaborative teacher planning time above the practice of seeking outside experts to provide teachers with new knowledge. Future studies could examine the climate and culture of schools that systemize a structure for sustainable teacher collaborative planning time.

Subject Area

Educational leadership|Teacher education

Recommended Citation

Fay, Ronald Matthew, "How Teacher Collaboration Time Provides Opportunity for Social Capital Development in Teacher Professional Learning Communities" (2019). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI27542521.