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Leaders in business, government, and education have sought to improve students' ability to think critically. While research on professional learning communities (PLCs) suggests PLCs positively impact standardized test scores and teacher efficacy, there is little evidence of how PLCs using inquiry protocols influence teachers' perceptions of instructional design for critical thinking and understanding students' critical thinking. Demands for critical thinking instruction rather than test preparation, plus teachers' misunderstanding of their students' critical thinking, support the purpose for this case study. This study examined how PLCs using inquiry protocols influence teachers' perceptions of instructional design for critical thinking and understanding students' critical thinking. The theoretical framework for this study drew from several theories, its emphasis was on constructivism in PLCs' use of inquiry protocols and critical thinking. PLC participants from an existing PLC agreed to join the study when asked during a PLC meeting. Eleven voluntary participants taught in 3 different grade levels and 8 subject areas. An inductive analysis of participant field notes, transcripts from PLC sessions, and group interviews indicated a divergence in participant understanding. Participants reflected either clarity or confusion in designing critical thinking projects and understanding students' critical thinking. Implications for a positive social change develop as the PLC becomes a model for other classroom teachers seeking to teach beyond state testing mandates. This study addressed the district's perceived need to advance instruction for critical thinking. PLC stakeholders seeking to maximize teacher clarity and minimize teacher confusion around critical thinking may use this study to identify actions to emulate as well as actions to eliminate.