Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education



First Advisor

Lynda Leavitt

Second Advisor

Sherrie Wisdom

Third Advisor

Robyne Elder


This dissertation investigated the connections between professional learning communities (PLCs), trust, and targeted interventions to promote increased functioning within adult groups. In contemporary education environments, collaborative efforts and shared decision-making became integral to achieving organizational goals. However, adult groups faced challenges such as communication breakdowns, conflicts, and lack of cohesion, impeding collective efficacy.

The study critically analyzed the theoretical foundations of PLCs and the potential to foster professional growth and collaboration. PLCs were characterized by ongoing learning, reflective dialogue, and a shared commitment to improvement. By providing a structured framework, PLCs offered opportunities for individuals to engage in meaningful interactions, build relationships, and collectively pursue common objectives.

Trust was identified as a crucial factor that underpinned high-functioning group dynamics. Trust played a pivotal role in promoting open communication, risk-taking, and psychological safety within adult groups. The dissertation explored the multidimensional nature of trust. The study delved into the antecedents and outcomes of trust within PLCs, highlighting the significance of trust-building interventions as a catalyst for enhanced group functioning.

The dissertation investigated an intervention aimed at cultivating trust and enhancing group functioning within a Midwest, suburban PLC. The intervention encompassed conflict resolution strategies, communication training, and feedback mechanisms. The analysis synthesized qualitative evidence to examine the efficacy of the intervention and the impact on trust development, collaboration, and overall group performance.

Methodologically, this dissertation employed a qualitative approach. The study combined a comprehensive review of relevant literature with empirical research, including pre/posttest surveys, weekly, open-ended surveys, and journaled observations, to capture the complex dynamics within adult groups and the effects of intervention.

The findings of this study contributed to both theoretical and practical implications. The dissertation offered a nuanced understanding of how PLCs, trust, and interventions interact to facilitate high-level group functioning. The findings provided insights for educators, leaders, and practitioners seeking to optimize collaborative efforts and harness the collective intelligence of adult groups. By highlighting the importance of trust-building interventions within PLCs, this research offered a roadmap for organizations to foster a culture of trust, collaboration, and continuous improvement.

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