The effectiveness of problem-based learning in the high school science classroom

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Authors
Sindelar, Teresa M.
Advisors
Carroll, Jeri A.
Issue Date
2010-05
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Thesis
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Abstract

In today's classrooms, students are asked to problem-solve their way through the curriculum in order to enhance their learning. Problem based learning (PBL) is a great strategy when put into practice with guidance and clear objectives. In this study, eighteen Earth/space Science students were exposed to the strategy of PBL. These students' pre and post-assessment scores were then compared to sixteen students in a different class where direct instruction techniques were used. For the research strategy, the instructor changed the focus of the classroom toward the students, and called upon them to be accountable for their own learning using the strategies of problem-based learning. Although some students were uncomfortable with this strategy and struggled to complete tasks when asked to manage their time by themselves, others thrived on the freedom to make their own choices their learning. This study was piloted in the 2008-2009 school year and many modifications were made in order to improve the experience for the students and ensure mastery of the content. Both the control and the experimental groups gained content knowledge throughout the course of the research. The experimental group was also observed to be more engaged in the learning process due to the problem-based learning strategies. The conclusion of this study found that problem-based learning is an effective strategy to use in the classroom, especially regarding student engagement.

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Thesis (M.Ed.)--Wichita State University, College of Education, Dept. of Curriculum and Instruction
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Wichita State University
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