Get Inspired by Project Based Learning! 3 Awesome PBL Case Studies
Project Based Learning is one of the educational trends to watch for, considering its many advantages. One of the most prominent traits of project-based learning is the clearly stated goal of the project and how it will be met. Project Based Learning also encompasses cross-curricular planning where more than one content area is addressed.
Here are three titles of fascinating PBL case studies that will pique your interest in this breakthrough trend that has yielded positive student outcomes.
“Putting PjBL to the Test”
This study was conducted by researchers from Michigan State, University of Michigan, Western Washington, and Lehigh University. Forty-eight, second-grade teachers took part in the controlled trial where one group was asked to facilitate four different projects that addressed all their district’s social studies standards and most of the literacy standards. The comparison group members were asked to conduct the lessons as they normally have in the past but with the expectation of teaching a set number of lessons within the timespan of the study.
The results showed that the experimental group, who implemented the project-based strategies, yielded higher growth in the areas of social studies and informational reading, and those who utilized project-based learning on a greater level of consistency showed better results with motivation, reading and writing.
“Student Outcomes from High-Quality Project-Based Learning”
This study is authored by Dr. Carla Evans of the National Center for the Improvement of Educational Assessment. It involved one teacher and two sections of high school chemistry classes with 40 students in all. The teacher received extensive training in Gold Standard PBL which she soon implemented and adhered with fidelity to the design elements when planning her project for her students. Furthermore, when teaching and mentoring during the project, she continued to incorporate the Gold Standard teaching practices.
At the end of the unit, results were compiled from interviews, student focus groups and outcome data, and surveys. Most of the students (62%) scored at proficient or above in the culminating task at the end of the unit. This task involved the application of newly acquired knowledge from the unit to a problem-solving scenario. Furthermore, in the areas of self-direction, 83% of the students demonstrated this skill at a level of proficient or higher, and 71% scored at these same levels in the area of collaboration. These findings were based on the teacher’s observations and student reflections during the project.
The Hunger Games Project
Another great aspect about project-based learning is the opportunity for teachers to collaborate on a cross-curricular level. Such is the case for Mary Mobley and Michael Chambers who teach high school English and Social Studies respectively in Manor, Texas. They have developed a unit based on The Hunger Games series of novels which revolves around a fictional post-war, dystopian society. The various standards that were covered in the unit included:
· Analyzing and comparing moral dilemmas in literature
· Global economic depression and governments’ response to it
· The rise of totalitarianism
· Writing personal response essays
The students participated in collaborative activities that involved research and critical thinking, and the culminating task was a presentation to peers, teachers, and parents. Both Mobley and Chambers reported favorable outcomes for the students who also played a role in establishing objectives for the unit and a “need-to-know” list to guide them.
So, as you can see, project-based learning requires a nominal amount of planning and fidelity to the practices. Nonetheless, this type of instruction paves the road to the future where students take a more active role in their learning while acquiring skills that will prepare them well for post-secondary study and beyond.