The effect of implementing a problem-based learning model on student attitude and performance in high school freshman biology

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Montana State University - Bozeman, Graduate School


The focus of this project was to examine the effects of a student-centered Problem-Based Learning (PBL) model on student learning, attitude and performance in a freshman biology course. The project was implemented over a seven week period. The first treatment phase asked students to use the PBL process to actively engage the first two weeks of the ecology unit content. Students gathered data on a local invasive species, buckthorn, and then developed a PBL artifact, in the form of a scientific paper. The second phase consisted of three weeks of non-treatment instruction that adhered closely to traditional passive learning instructional and learning practices. The third and final phase again asked students to use the PBL process to actively engage the two week evolution unit constructed around a PBL case study, "The Galapagos," developed by Herreid & Schiller (1999). Through the analysis of data collected, I was able to determine that students enjoyed their increased role in the course and the parallels of PBL to the true nature of science made possible through the PBL active learning process. Students were able to show marked improvement on non-traditional assessments without negatively impacting performance on traditional assessments. All in all, students responded positively on the Likert surveys that they would like to continue learning concepts via PBL.




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