Developing conceptions of teaching and learning within communities of practice

Mary Campo Kline, University of Pennsylvania


Over the past decade, national and state standards for teacher professional development have increasingly encouraged inquiry-based delivery of continuing education. This qualitative case study explores the progress of one local professional development initiative intended to develop durable teacher communities of practice in support of language arts literacy reform. Using constructivist grounded theory, it analyzes the ways professional communities of practice develop and evolve when teachers are invited to consider/reconsider their own conceptions of teaching and learning. It further explores the ways language arts literacy teachers respond to district-sponsored invitations to examine/reexamine their own conceptions of what constitutes "research-based" language arts literacy practice. Data sources for this practitioner research study included participant journals, interviews, curriculum work products, emails, ethnographic field notes, and official communications. Data was collected over the course of three years of local professional development reform in a suburban public school setting. Starting with the establishment of the first formal district community of practice, a state-mandated local professional development committee, this dissertation describes and analyzes the growth of three teacher communities of practice developed to support professional development and language arts literacy reform. It suggests that communities of practice are most effective when framed as voluntary associations based on a shared sense of organizational purpose and common figured worlds. Teacher leadership is identified as both prerequisite for and outcome of developing communities of practice. The dissertation further concludes that reification can serve to legitimize and stabilize fledgling communities of practice in uncertain administrative environments.

Subject Area

Teacher education|Curricula|Teaching

Recommended Citation

Kline, Mary Campo, "Developing conceptions of teaching and learning within communities of practice" (2007). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3255855.