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Presentation of the Georgia Tech and Center for Teaching Team on the work with Project-based learning at public charter school in Atlanta, GA.


  • 1. Georgia Institute of Technology Evaluating the Essential Elements of Project-Based Learning: A Case Study of First-Year Implementation in One Urban School Jessica Gale, Ph.D.1 Christopher Cappelli, MPH 1 Jane Simpkins, B.S.2 Robert Ryshke, M.S.2 1Center for Education Integrating Science, Mathematics, and Computing (CEISMC) Georgia Institute of Technology 2The Westminster Schools Center for Teaching 2014 American Educational Research Association Annual Conference, Philadelphia, PA

2. Georgia Institute of Technology Project Based Learning (PBL) A systematic teaching method that engages students in learning knowledge and skills through an extended inquiry process structured around complex, authentic questions and carefully designed products and tasks (BIE, p4). 3. Georgia Institute of Technology Doing Projects vs. Project-Based Learning Short-term Dessert projects often intended to supplement traditional instruction Often done at home, individually, repeated year after year. (Larmer & Mergendoller, 2010; Mayer, 2012) Longer term can last weeks or even months Main Course primary vehicle for student learning Often require teacher guidance, collaboration with other students. 4. Georgia Institute of Technology PBL Implementation Challenges at 3 levels (Krajcik et. al, 1994) Teacher level: beliefs, previous experiences, PCK, commitment to innovation. Classroom level: resources, class size, schedule. School/Community level: curricular/testing policy, community involvement. Ongoing support crucial for successful PBL implementation (Ertmer & Simons, 2006; Fullen, 1992; Tobin & Dawson, 1992) 5. Georgia Institute of Technology Purpose The purpose of this study is to examine the first- year implementation of project-based learning (PBL) in one urban charter school. The study documents the extent to which the schools initial implementation exemplifies the eight essential elements of PBL (Buck Institute, 2012). 6. Georgia Institute of Technology 8 Essential Elements of Project-Based Learning 21st Century Skills Significant Content In-Depth Inquiry Driving Question Need to Know Voice & Choice Revision and Reflection Public Audience 7. Georgia Institute of Technology Case Study: PBL Charter School Public Charter in urban school district in SE U.S. Approximately 900 K-8 students Predominantly low-income (60% Free/Reduced Lunch); 89% African American, 10% White, 4% Multi-racial, 3 % Hispanic High achieving relative to district EX: In 2012- 13, 98% of 3-8th graders met or exceed expectations in math vs. 74% in district. Extended school day and year = 40 additional days Departmentalized in 4-8th grade Average class size 22 students 8. Georgia Institute of Technology Participants All K-8 teachers (n=36) and administrators (n=4) All attended Buck Institute PBL training during the summer of 2012 and 1-day follow-up workshop at mid-year. Teachers worked in grade level teams to develop and implement interdisciplinary projects. Y1 Implementation Goal: 2 major projects per grade level (1 each semester). 9. Georgia Institute of Technology Methodology Teacher Survey Inquiry Based Instruction (IBI) survey adapted from Inquiry Within, Llewellyn, 2007. Completed online before PBL Training (Spring 2012), mid- year, and end of school year (Spring, 2013). 15 Items excerpted for current study (from 39). Assesses teacher beliefs related to 6 of 8 Essential Elements Each item rated on two 4-point scales: 1)Importance: How important is this? (Very Not Important) 2)Implementation: How much do you do this? (Often.Never) 10. Sample IBI Survey Items Essential Element IBI Survey Item Focus On Significant Content Preparing lessons in which subject areas are integrated. 21st Century Skills Providing opportunities for students to solve authentic real-world problems. In-Depth Inquiry Providing resources and manipulatives to students to stimulate their curiosity. Establishing a Need to Know Creating units that begin with a highly motivating problem, question, or demonstration. Voice and Choice Providing opportunities for students to design their own investigations. Revision and Reflection Encouraging students to reflect on their work. 11. Georgia Institute of Technology Focus Groups and Interviews Conducted with each grade level (K-8) at end of first year implementing PBL. 4-6 teachers per group, 35 teachers total. Additional interviews with 3 enrichment teachers and administrator PBL Coordinator). 8 Essential Elements Checklist used as guide for 45-minute discussion. 12. Survey Results Overall increase in (already high) importance and implementation ratings from pre-post (**p