Professional learning networks, teacher beliefs and practices
Anderson, Brent J.
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Helping teachers develop the habits of mind and pedagogical skills to improve student achievement has been a challenge for schools and school leaders. Online professional learning networks (PLNs) are a means of allaying the barriers to collaboration. This study utilized social constructivist learning theory and self-efficacy theory to explore the relationship among frequency of teacher collaboration via PLN and teachers' sense of efficacy and adoption of best instructional practices. Study participants were teachers from throughout the United States who participated in education-related Twitter chats. The participants completed an online survey that was embedded in a tweet. The survey instrument included the Teacher Sense of Efficacy Scale and a portion of the Teaching and Learning International Survey 2008 (TALIS 2008) as well as a few open-ended and demographic questions. The study found a strong relationship between frequent online collaboration and teachers' sense of efficacy related to engaging students in learning. The teachers reported that PLN collaboration gave them access to resources and strategies as well as other teachers who wanted to share and learn together. Future research should look at the direct influence of PLN participation on teacher beliefs and practices. PLNs could be a means to engage more teachers, particularly veteran teachers, in learning that leads to improved pedagogy and enhanced efficacy beliefs.