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					Project and Problem Based Learning

              John Henry
• Know what Project and Problem Based
  Learning is and why it is used.
• Understand the basic process of PBL
• Do an engagement activity
• Brainstorm ideas for a PBL lesson or
  transition an existing lesson to a PBL
              PBL FRAMEWORK


                    Pedagogy        Assessment

What does the research say about

A three-year 1997 study of two secondary
    schools -- one that used open-ended
      projects and one that used more
   traditional, direct instruction -- found
   striking differences in understanding
   and standardized achievement data in
What does the research say about PBL?
 The study by Jo Boaler, at Stanford University,
  found that students at a project-based school
   did better than those at the more traditional
    school both on math problems requiring
  analytical or conceptual thought and on those
     considered rote, that is, those requiring
          memory of a rule or formula.

 Three times as many students at the project-
 based school received the top grade achievable
     on the national examination in math.
What does the research say about

In a five-year study, researchers at SRI
  International found that technology-
    using students in Challenge 2000
 Multimedia Project-Based classrooms
  outperformed non-technology-using
    students in communication skills,
    teamwork, and problem solving.
What does the research say about

 The Center for Learning in Technology
  researchers, led by Bill Penuel, found
 increased student engagement, greater
  responsibility for learning, increased
  peer collaboration skills, and greater
   achievement gains by students who
     had been labeled low achievers.
  What does the research say about

Students from Multimedia Project classrooms
  outperformed comparison classrooms in all
three areas scored by researchers and teachers:
  student content, attention to audience, and
   design. The Multimedia Project involves
    completing one to four interdisciplinary
 multimedia projects a year that integrate real-
          world issues and practices.
What does the research say about
Alternative school offers unique curriculum, project-
                     based learning
   Lakeview School in Ill., use PBL to reach students
      who are struggling in traditional schools by
 implementing a curriculum that is based on "doing
      things based on real world situation." The
   alternative Global Citizenship Experience School
   combines many core subjects – while addressing
 state standards -- and uses a project-based approach
  that incorporates cultural awareness, sustainability
          and other themes. Chicago Tribune
 What does the research say about

Data show project-based learning may help boost
    achievement: Anecdotal evidence has long
 supported the notion that project-based learning
 can deepen learning for students and help them
   gain skills they need for college and careers,
 What does the research say about
Envision Schools founder Bob Lenz writes in this
 blog post. But a new report finds that 12th-grade
     students who were taught a project-based
 economics curriculum outscored a control group
   on standardized tests, and their teachers were
 reportedly more satisfied with the material, Lenz
    notes. Lenz's blog (9/30)
                          Lecture…Sit and Get


Average Retention Rates


In 1956, Benjamin Bloom headed a group of educational
psychologists who developed a classification of levels of
      intellectual behavior important in learning.

During the 1990's a new group of cognitive psychologist,
 lead by Lorin Anderson (a former student of Bloom's),
   updated the taxonomy reflecting relevance to 21st
                     century work.
              Bloom's Taxonomy

New Version                      Old Version
     Always think outside the box
            Creatively Speaking, Part Two:
Sir Ken Robinson on the Power of the Imaginative Mind
     PBL for Teachers wiki
    What do you know about PBL?

• What is Project and Problem Based Learning?
• Why do PBL?
• Common Features of Project Based Learning
• Benefits and Obstacles of PBL
• What are the Differences and Similarities of
  Project and Problem Based Learning
• What are Student and Teacher roles when doing
          Project Based Learning?

Is a teaching and learning model that focuses on the
     central concepts and principles of a discipline,
    involves students in problem solving and other
       meaningful tasks, allows students to work
 autonomously and in groups to construct their own
 learning, culminates in realistic, student generated

            Buck Institute for Education
    Problem-Based Learning Defined

Finkle and Torp (1995) state that "problem-based
     learning is a curriculum development and
instructional system/process that simultaneously
  develops both problem solving strategies and
disciplinary knowledge bases and skills by placing
   students in the active role of problem solvers
  confronted with an ill-structured problem that
           mirrors real-world problems"

Learning as an active process in which learners
 construct new ideas or concepts based upon
  their current or past knowledge. Students
continually build upon what they have already
            Product or Process?
     Ms, McIntyre introduced a “project” to her
students. She plopped a packet of papers on each
  student’s desk and explained that each student
     would create a poster about water-borne
 bacterium and how it can be harmful to humans.
                The packet included
  assignment sheets with due dates and grading
policy, a guide for designing the poster, and a list
           of websites and books to use.
  PBL is not…

Giving students a project, that is hands-on, with
 step by step instructions, designed and guided
      by the teacher that results in a student
    produced product. This process is missing
    student voice and choice, and may not be
               authentic or relevant
          Redesign this Project
Ms, McIntyre introduced a “project” to her students.
   She plopped a packet of papers on each student’s
 desk and explained that each student would create a
 poster about water-borne bacterium and how it can
      be harmful to humans. The packet included
    assignment sheets with due dates and grading
  policy, a guide for designing the poster, and a list of
               websites and books to use.
    Problem based learning provides
      opportunities for students to
  examine and try out what they know

Students discover what they need to learn
Develop team building and people skills for
  achieving higher performance in group

      Improve communication skills
Engage the Student and the Achievement
              will Follow

         Achievement Gap or Engagement Gap?

85% of Middle and High School Students report being bored
                    in their classrooms
         Problem Solving

Example of Engagement Activity

        Toxic Popcorn
       What’s your Game

 Interest, hands-on, interactive and
                Toxic Popcorn

  A can of highly toxic popcorn has contaminated a
  circle of approximately 4 feet in diameter. The
  toxic area extends to the ceiling. If the toxic
  popcorn is not transferred to a safe container for
  decontamination, it will contaminate the region
  The popcorn is estimated to have a safe life of
  exactly 15 minutes before it explodes. It’s up to
  you to save the day!

Inside the circle you will find two cans. One
(unsafe container) is half full of the toxic
popcorn. The other (safe) container is available for
decontamination. Find a way to collaboratively to
safely transfer the toxic popcorn from the unsafe
container to the safe container, using only the
materials provided to you.

• No one may cross the plane of the circle with any
  part of the body.
• Only the ropes & tire tube may cross the plane of
  the circle.
• No spills are allowed, or the popcorn will explode.
• You may use only the materials provided.
• The popcorn must be transferred with in 20 minutes
  or there will be a disaster.
State and defend positions with evidence and
              sound argument
Become more flexible in processing information
         and meeting obligations
                        Why Do PBL?
Think critically and be able to analyze and solve complex, real-
world problems

Find, evaluate, and use appropriate learning resources

Work individually and cooperatively in teams and small groups

Demonstrate versatile and effective communication skills, both
verbal and written

Use content knowledge and develop skills to become life-long
learners in order to succeed in a global economy
 Students Deserve it

The World Demands it
             Why Do PBL?

         The National Problem:

As a result of a relative decline in student
achievement … and interest of students to
pursue Science, Technology, Engineering,
 Mathematics (STEM)-related careers …

      the United States IS AT RISK.
                  Why Do PBL?

• In the US only 15% of the undergraduates receive their
  degrees in natural sciences or engineering.

• Past 3 years alone, China & India have doubled
  production of 3- and 4-year degrees in engineering,
  computers science and IT, while the US production of
  engineers is stagnant and CS and IT have doubled.

                    Losing Interest
                 Why Do PBL?

• In 2003, US 15 years olds ranked 24th out of 40
  countries that participated in an exam that
  assessed students abilities to apply mathematical
  concepts to real world problems

• 56% of engineering PhDs in the US are awarded
  to foreign-born students.
                   Why Do PBL?

• Although US fourth graders score well against
  international competition, they fall near the
  bottom or dead last by 12th grade in Mathematics
  and Science, respectively.

• In 2004 chemical companies closed 70 facilities in
  the United States and have tagged 40 more for
  shutdown. Of 120 new chemical plants around the
  world 1 will be in the United States. 50 will be in
Framework for 21st Century Learning

                       The standard includes six strands, which reflect the
                             Framework for 21st Century Learning:
21st Century Skills

• Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
                                                                   21st Century Themes
• Creativity and Innovation
                                                                   Global Awareness
                                                                   Financial, Economic,
• Collaboration, Teamwork, and Leadership
                                                                   Business, and
                                                                   Entrepreneurial Literacy
• Cross-Cultural Understanding and Interpersonal
                                                                   Civic Literacy
                                                                   Health Literacy
• Communication and Media Fluency

• Accountability, Productivity, and Ethics

Understanding by Design UbD template (lesson plan development)

BIE Article on PBL
Common Features of Project
    Based Learning
Students engage in real world issues where students
   define and solve problems that are meaningful to

     PBL usually begins with a Scenario

 They begin to Brainstorm and ask questions
Examples of Scenarios
Students learn and practice team building and
 social skills by working in cooperative teams
and sometimes with people in the community
Students use critical thinking, planning
   skills, problem solving skills, and
research in order to solve the problem.
Students apply skills based on a specific
  content area in a variety of ways as
      they work on the project.
Gives students practice in a variety of skills that
  they will be able to use in future careers or
 during their adult lives such as responsibility,
        leadership, and problem solving.
It usually ends with a product or presentation
 that demonstrates learning and is assessed.
Includes expectations for the project, based on
 the learning outcome. These are stated at the
beginning of the project and are linked to state
Includes reflection activities that help
 students to think critically about their
Benefits and Obstacles of PBL
•Problem-based learning encourages students to take control and become
active in their learning.

•Research tends to suggest that when compared to graduates from a
traditional program, PBL graduates are better prepared for professional
life with advanced level interpersonal skills, the ability to work effectively
in cross and interdisciplinary teams and lifelong learning skills.

•As more PBL graduates make their way into the workforce the reputation
of PBL will grow and it is likely that employers could show preference for
graduates with the types of knowledge, skills and attitudes developed and
encouraged by problem-based learning
PBL learners become:

 proactive thinkers
 critical thinkers
 problem solvers
 capable of self-assessment
 self-sufficient and self-motivated
 able to find and use appropriate resources
 technologically advanced
 leaders as well as team players
 capable of communicating ideas and listening to others
 eager to jump into the next challenge or problem
Obstacles Described by Teachers
• It takes a lot of preparation time
• We don't have the resources
• We lack administrative support and support
  from other teachers
• You often feel uneasy because you're not
  knowledgeable about the content
• The open-ended, no right or wrong answer
  aspect of project work can be threatening
     Obstacles Described by Teachers

• Administrators can fault you for not covering the
• There are risks associated with giving up teacher
• Students may not participate and are not always
  Obstacles Described by Teachers

• students may have difficulty with higher order
  thinking or open-ended problems

• There is a risk that students might not learn
  much, or receive much of value from Problem
  Based Learning unless designed right
 Benefits Described by Students

• We got to choose what to work on.
• We learned that we can make a difference
• There was a clear goal that was a challenge
  to work on
• There was an audience for the product and
  we knew we had to meet the deadline and
  present it to the audience.
 Benefits Described by Students

• We weren't afraid to try things we didn't
  know because the teacher said we would
  have the opportunity to reevaluate and try
• Everyone felt needed and had a part. Nobody
  got left out
• We didn't need to use our texts, and we were
  actively doing things and learning something.
 Benefits Described by Students

• We were using skills we knew we would
  need in our jobs, like using time wisely,
  exercis-ing responsibility, and not letting
  the group down.
• We learned that when the real world is the
  source of evaluation, you had better have
  your act together.
• Yes, enjoyed it, felt like I had more
 Benefits Described by Students

• I liked it, got a lot of ideas out, but did
  need some guidance some times.
• Like the idea of going off on our own to
  research everything possible instead of
  being limited by teacher specification.
 Benefits Described by Students

• Communicating with outside sources, and
  making contacts for information.
• How to communicate and work with the
  corporate world, make contacts. How to
  write, how to work with other people in
• How to be a leader.
Similarities Between Project Based and Problem
                 Based Learning

 • Both instructional strategies are intended to engage students in
   authentic, "real world" tasks to enhance learning.
 • Students are given open-ended projects or problems with more than
   one approach or answer, intended to simulate professional
 • Both approaches are student-centered and the teacher acts as
   facilitator or coach.
 • Students work in cooperative groups for extended periods of time
 • In both approaches, students seek out multiple sources of
 • There is often a performance-based assessment.
Differences Between Project Based and Problem
                Based Learning
• In Project based learning, the students define the purpose for
  creating an end product.
• In Problem based learning, the students are presented with a
  problem to solve.
• In Project based learning, the students present their
  conclusion and there is an end product.
• In Problem based learning, when the students present their
  conclusion, there may or may not be an end product.
                                                 PBL vs. PBL

Project Based Learning                                                                       Problem Based Learning
                                                   - Both deal with a
- Project Based Learning is an instructional       motivating prompt, -Problem Based Learning is an instructional
strategy in which students work in cooperative
learning groups to create a product,                  a question or strategy in which students work in cooperative
presentation, or performance.                      problem, that has learning groups to investigate and resolve a
                                                    to be addressed                                              problem.
-Project Based Learning typically engages             by creating a
students with a question . That question is            solution or
then used to create a final product that
somehow answers the question.
                                                        product.          - Problem Based Learning problems are typically
                                                                        based on real-world issues or situations. Students
- Focuses more on the final product, than           - Each is a valid are able to apply prior knowledge and experiences to
                                                      instructional                                   the problem at hand.
the process of creating it.
                                                      strategy that
                                                    promotes active - Focuses more on the process of problem
                                                      learning and                   solving, rather than the outcome.
                                                   engages students.
              Teacher and Student Role in PBL.

   The teacher plays the role of facilitator, working with
   students to frame worthwhile questions, structuring
 meaningful tasks, coaching both knowledge development
and social skills, and carefully assessing what students have
                 learned from the experience.
             Teacher and Student Role in PBL.

Students are at the center of the work to be accomplished.
   The classroom environment is student centered, not
      teacher directed. Students are responsible for
    brainstorming, solving problems, working together,
  documenting, evaluating their progress and presenting
                       their findings.
The core idea of Project and Problem Based
 learning is that real-world problems capture
    students' interest and provoke serious
  thinking as the students acquire and apply
new knowledge in a problem-solving context.
Educational Features   Traditional Instruction   Project and Problem
                       Emphasizes                Based Learning
                       Content Coverage          Depth of Understanding
Focus of Curriculum    Knowledge of Facts        Comprehension of
                       Learning “building-blocks Concepts and Principles
                       skills in isolation       Development of complex
Educational Features   Traditional Instruction    Project and Problem Based
                       Emphasizes                 Learning Emphasizes

                       Follows fixed curriculum   Follows student interest
Scope and Sequence     Proceeds unit by unit      Large units composed of
                                                  complex problems or real-
                       Narrow, discipline-based
                                                  world issues
                                                  Broad, interdisciplinary
                       Lecturer and director of   Resource provider and
                       instruction                participant in learning
Teacher Role
Educational Features   Traditional Instruction    Project and Problem
                       Emphasizes                 Based Learning
                       Lecturer and director of   Resource provider and
                       instruction                participant in learning
Teacher Role
                       Products                   Process and products
Focus of assessment    Test scores                Tangible accomplishments
                       Comparison with others     Criterion performance
                                                  and gains over time
                       Reproduction of
                       information                Demonstration of
Educational Features       Traditional Instruction    Project and Problem Based
                           Emphasizes                 Learning Emphasizes
                           Texts, lectures and        Direct or original sources:
                           presentations              printed materials,
Materials of instruction
                                                      interviews, documents and
                                                      other sources
                           exercises sheets and
                           activities                 Data and materials
                                                      developed by students
                           Ancillary, peripheral      Central, integral
Use of Technology          Administered by teachers   Directed by students
                           Useful for enhancing       Useful for enhancing
                           teacher’ presentation      student presentation or
                                                      amplifying student
 Using your classroom, the school or the local
community as a context for learning, write your
               own PBL Scenario
         1. Background Information
             2. Student Relevance
                  3. Scenario
• PBL for Teachers

• Seymour Papert: Project-Based Learning. Inside a state
  juvenile correctional facility

• Project Based Learning from Educational Leadership
• Global Perspectives -
•   Exploring the Environment
•   Project InSTEP Teacher Instructional Designs
•   PBL Essentials
•   PBL in Math
•   PBL Clearinghouse
•   Project and Problem Based Learning
 Project Based Learning site for
   students to practice skills