Teacher perceptions of the impact of professional learning
The purpose of this study was to examine teacher perceptions of professional learning communities in three middle schools. This research examined the perceived impact of professional learning communities on teaching and on student learning. One question guided this research. "What are the teachers' perceptions of seventh grade learning communities' impact on teaching and on student learning in science?" This study used a multiple methods design to examine evidence about relationships among professional learning communities and teaching and student learning. A survey modified from an earlier research study was used (Bolam, McMahon, Stoll, & Thomas 2005). This survey was administered to the teachers who are part of seventh grade science learning communities from each of three participating middle schools. The results from this survey were used to describe teacher perceptions about the use of learning communities within each school. A purposeful sample of candidates was then selected for interviews. Through the use of the two data sources, surveys (see Appendix A) and interviews (see Appendix B), the researcher found four common themes that support the idea of a professional learning community and the effects teachers perceived as contributing to successful teaching and learning. The four themes that emerged included the importance of learning trends, organizational support for a learning community, enquiry orientation, and the need for provision of planning and development.