The Impact of Community-Based Teacher Learning on Student Learning Outcomes

Project Number
OER 14/12 HS

Project Duration
July 2012 - September 2015


Since the introduction of community-based teacher learning in 1997, culminating in the establishment of Teachers Network Learning Circles in 2000, no systematic system-wide empirical study has been carried out to investigate the processes and outcomes of community-based teacher learning in Singapore. Since then other forms of community-based teacher learning have mushroomed all across the education system such as collaborative action research, lesson study and reading groups. By 2009, interest in community-based teacher learning caught the attention of the Singapore Ministry of Education (MOE), with the support the Academy of Singapore Teachers (AST), a merger of Teachers Network and Staff Training Branch under the umbrella of the then Training and Development Division, had decided to embrace the concept of Professional Learning Communities (PLCs). 51 schools were piloted in 2009. And by 2010, the MOE crafted its own PLC framework, which treats action research, lesson study and learning circles as tools for teacher reflection and inquiry. Interest in community-based teacher learning is consistent with the education ministry's interest in school-based curricular reforms, which hinge on the belief that curricular improvement and innovation must be initiated from schools, and more importantly, the teachers themselves. This is crucial in terms of not only maintaining sustainability, but also being sensitive to the uniqueness of different school contexts. In order to make this a success, school teachers are to heighten their competencies through professional development - namely, through communities - and school leaders to support teacher learning in communities. Moreover, the outcomes of curriculum must now go beyond maintaining and enhancing academic achievement, but to also include the outcomes of holistic development of each student, specifically, the 21st century skills, concurrently. Although the MOE PLC framework was conceptually constructed based on local practitioners' experiential knowledge, it borrows much from theories emanating from the western literature. On top of this, much of the literature on PLCs, as with other community-based teacher learning models, has been advocacy in nature. The field of community-based teacher learning, including PLCs, is sorely lacking in the international empirical research especially with respect to its impact on teacher competencies, teaching practices and student learning outcomes using more robust methodologies. This is partly due to a certain degree of looseness and openness in the definition of the term 'community'. The research problem is, therefore, centrally grounded in the fact that there is indeed a lack of empirical knowledge base on community-based teacher learning at the local education system, and the wider international scene. And in this respect, the study seeks to make a significant contribution to this knowledge base.

Research Themes
Teacher Learning/PLCs/Lesson Studies

Funding Source

Related Links
ReEd Vol 10 (2013): A Community of Leaders
NIE Research Briefs No.15-001: The Impact of Community-based Teacher Learning on Student Learning Outcomes

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