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The Challenges of Implementing Project-based Learning in Middle Schools

Harris, Matthew J. (2015) The Challenges of Implementing Project-based Learning in Middle Schools. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Project-based learning is an instructional approach that requires teachers and students to work collaboratively to solve authentic problems guided by a driving question and often making use of technology for research and the presentation of findings. This study examined middle school teachers 19 perceptions associated with the implementation of project-based learning and explored the challenges teachers perceive they face when implementing project-based learning, the ways they respond to these challenges, and the role teachers perceive 21st Century skills play in a project-based learning implementation. The purpose of the study was to examine teachers 19 perceptions of for consideration of future implementations of project-based learning. The study was conducted at a suburban middle school outside Pittsburgh, PA. Forty-nine teachers responded to a questionnaire designed to collect data on their perceptions. The participants were asked to rate challenges they face against a set list of challenges developed through selected literature on project-based learning implementations (Bender, 2012; Markham, Larmer, & Ravitz, 2003). The participants were also asked to explain ways they respond to the perceived challenges and to rate the degree to which they perceived project-based learning addressed 21st Century skills as defined by the Partnership for 21st Century skills.
The researcher found that teachers perceived that time, meeting state accountability requirements, addressing the standards, implementing the project within the schools schedule and designing the project-based experience were most challenging when implementing project-based learning. The study also found that teachers either knew how to respond to challenges or expressed further concern about doing so. The 21st Century skills teachers perceived project-based learning addressed more effectively than more traditional methods of instruction were communication and collaboration, creativity and innovation, and critical thinking and problem solving.
The findings suggest that professional development may help alleviate some of the perceived challenges teachers face when implementing project-based learning. The study also suggests that 21st Century skills play a valuable role in project-based learning implementations and should be specifically addressed in the development and implementation of project-based learning experiences.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Harris, Matthew J.mjh97@pitt.eduMJH97
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairBickel, Williambickel@pitt.eduBICKEL
Committee MemberGarman, Noreenngarman@pitt.eduNGARMAN
Committee MemberJacob, W. Jameswjacob@pitt.eduWJACOB
Committee MemberTananis, Cynthiatananis@pitt.eduTANANIS
Date: 28 January 2015
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 20 November 2014
Approval Date: 28 January 2015
Submission Date: 17 November 2014
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 132
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Education > Administrative and Policy Studies
Degree: EdD - Doctor of Education
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Project-based Learning, Implementing Project-based Learning, Project-based Learning challenges
Date Deposited: 28 Jan 2015 20:15
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 14:25


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