Teacher perceptions of change: A qualitative study of a student-led, project-based instruction initiative
This study investigated teachers' perceptions of change as it relates the implementing student-led, project-based instruction. Fullan's theory of change implementation was the theoretical framework used to examine what influenced the teachers' willingness to change. The four specific areas of investigation were teachers' perceptions about (a) the need for adding student-led, project-based learning, (b) the clarity of the teachers' knowledge about teaching using student-led, project-based learning, (c) the teachers' preparedness to undertake the complexity of student-led, project-based instruction, and (d) the quality and practicality of current implementation and expansion of practices. The data was collected from interviews with teachers in traditional and project-based classroom environments, informal classroom observations, and a collection of teacher and student related artifacts. The data revealed three themes that impacted their perspective: the different teachers groups perception as to the need for PBL, a clear understanding of what PBL is, the complexity of implementation and the quality and practicality of implementation within the classroom environment. From the findings, I suggest for successful implementation of PBL or other innovative pedagogical methodologies, policymakers need to develop assessments and assessment policies that move away from assessing only discreet content knowledge. Secondly, schools need well-trained experts in the pedagogical methodology being implemented, through pre-service teacher training and/or ongoing professional development. Third, the implementing school or organization should develop a collective, shared definition and vision for the implementation. Finally, teachers, student, and parents should be provided a choice of instructional methodologies as a pathway toward high school graduation.