Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Beth Robelia


U.S. educational leaders struggle with declining mathematics achievement among students as compared to other countries. The problem for this study was low standardized mathematics scores in one district in a major city in the Southwestern United States. The purpose of this sequential explanatory mixed method project study was to analyze the effectiveness of professional learning communities (PLCs) on the mathematics critical thinking pedagogy among teachers in 2 elementary schools. The conceptual framework focused on work by Olivier, Hipp, Huffman, and Hord on the efficacy of PLCs for improving teacher pedagogy. Research questions addressed in this study were designed to explore teachers' perceptions of PLCs according to Olivier, Hipp, and Huffman's 6 professional learning characteristics for improving math critical thinking pedagogy, as well as the efficacy of the structure of the PLCs. Data were obtained via open-ended interviews and focus groups, and employed descriptive analysis using grounded theory where conceptual categories emerged from the survey data. Likert scale data were also gathered via a survey, which was triangulated to form conclusions regarding the research questions. Key findings indicate that teachers perceive PLCs positively; however, they indicated the need for more time and administrative support for mathematics PLCs. The project that resulted from this research is a PLC professional development session that guides schools' mathematics PLCs and addresses critical thinking pedagogy and the need for school and district support for mathematics PLCs. Social change may result by improving teachers' mathematics critical thinking pedagogy and giving students mathematics instruction needed to compete in a global economy.