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Problem-Based Learning: One District Listens

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      Hats off to students, who redrew attendance boundaries to equalize the numbers of students in classes, in an Advanced Placement Human Geography course! Their teamwork on Problem-Based Learning led to proposals to blend students’ socioeconomic and racial groups to maximize learning. Problem-Based Learning emerged from years of experimentation at Sammamish High School in Bellevue, Washington State. Teachers developed authentic ‘real world’ situations as content to PBL. With a special grant, teachers spent five years redesigning the curriculum along problem-solving lines.

      Reference: Phi Delta Kappan, October 2017 Issue, V99 N2: 65-70.

      Problem-Based Learning is in line with Common Core Standards and emphasizes and increases in student engagement, motivation, and involvement with more explicit conceptual understanding of disciplinary practices. This grew out of the constructivist methods prevalent in engineering, medicine, and law. Students are immersed in problem- and project-based learning. The problem-based learning relies on content that students can conceptualize and accents ‘process.’ Project-based learning relies on the product rather than process. Research has been available since the 90s that inquiry-, project-, and problem-based learning have engaged students in purposeful, interactive, and complex work.

      References: Baron et al., 1998; Barron & Carling-Hammond, 2008; Belland, Glazewski, & Ertmer, 2009; Blumenfeld, Soloway, & Mars, 1001; Boaler & Staples, 2008).

      Framework Construct
      • Authentic Problems
      • Authentic Assessment
      • Culturally Relevant and Responsive Pedagogy
      • Expertise
      • Collaboration
      • Academic Discourse
      • Student Voice and leadership

      Teachers compared Advanced Placement mean scores between matched groups of students who took AP courses and the associated AP test before the PBL intervention, during, and after in a post test. All students demonstrated, regardless of socioeconomic or linguistic status, or special learning needs, the benefits of problem-based learning. I highly encourage you to read this interesting article in the October 2017 issue of the Kappan, if you have not already done so.


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