The effects of project-based learning in the middle school science classroom

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Montana State University - Bozeman, Graduate School


Effective problem solving is a vital 21st century skill leading to successful careers in academics and the work force. This study aims to improve middle school students' problem solving skills and increase their confidence. Project-Based Learning (PBL) was implemented in the earth science classroom with the intent to challenge students to solve real world problems through collaboration, critical thinking, and problem solving while learning to take initiative and build confidence. Units were taught in alternating phases of PBL and normal instruction. Students were assessed on their comprehension through the analysis of pre and post content tests and students' problem solving abilities were measured with a rubric to determine their individual success of applying appropriate problem solving strategies concluding each unit. Student confidence levels were determined with a survey, unit reflection, and interviews. The results indicated that the majority of the students preferred PBL instruction to normal instruction and were more effective problem-solvers concluding PBL units. The treatment of PBL instruction had a positive influence on students' confidence levels as students expressed more confidence, motivation and desire for collaboration following treatment.




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