The effects of problem-based learning on student understanding of Advanced PlacementÂ® environmental science topics
McDaniel, Colleen Marie
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Often during second semester, I lose the attention of my students due to their preoccupation with being second semester seniors and with college acceptances. This project used student-centered, problem-based learning to regain their attention and make them more accountable for their learning in my AP ® Environmental Science course. I also looked at the affect it had on their study strategies, motivation, and metacognition in class, along with my own attitude about teaching. This project investigated the effect that problem-based learning had on understanding of AP ® Environmental Science topics when compared to a traditional teacher-centered lecture based unit. Students understanding of material was assessed using pre and postunit assessments, along with formative assessments, and concept map interviews. Other methods of data collection were used to understand changes in student's attitudes, study methods, and metacognition in all units. The attitude of students was determined through using attitude surveys and individual interviews. Student surveys along with interviews helped understand the changes in study habits and metacognition. Observations made throughout the units also supplied data to analyze these areas. Results indicated a mixed effect on each of the areas addressed. In the first treatment unit there was a positive trend, with improvement in attitude, attainment of knowledge of concepts, and metacognition, but in the second treatment the trend was opposite. The same observation can be made with my attitude toward teaching that in the first unit it was more positive while in the second unit it was more negative.