Purpose of the Topic “ The mathematics curriculum in US high schools is designed to support the success on standardized tests ”
Traditional In a perfect world, teachers teach and students learn!!!!
“Due to the difficulty of reaching all students and still teaching ‘to the standards’, some teachers are struggling to find ways”
What is Project-Based Learning? derived from constructivist theory learning-by-doing not to be confused with simply conducting projects within the class projects ARE the curriculum Real project-based learning is deep complex, and rigorous
Traditional Versus Constructivist the main distinction between these projects that have been present in traditional classrooms for so many years and those from the PBL style is that within the PBL approach, students learn while they complete the project, rather than learn the said material first followed up by a project in which they apply those learned skills or ideas.
“ the philosophy of constructivism is based on the premise that we construct our understanding of the world we live in. A theory that is based on the idea that learning is an active process; where learners construct new ideas based on their current knowledge”
History of Project-Based Learning PBL was originally developed in medical education in the early 1970's. The idea was to replace the traditional lecture-based approach to anatomy, pharmacology, physiology etc..
An example of success with PBL came from an adult English language-learners class.
Students worked together in groups to plan their projects, conduct their research and develop the overall products for business plans.
Once the product was complete, students presented their results with others some resulting in creation of actual business plans.
it was concluded that learning through PBL “is responsive to the audience, shows evidence of preparation and practice, and shows knowledge of the topic”
Additionally it showed that since this kind of work is unique, it makes it exciting, challenging and meaningful to adult learners.
Another example was a study of a Connected Math Project with seventh grade students.
The school was a pilot site for CMP:
creates problem-centered materials aligned with NCTM standards,
focuses on problem solving and critical thinking
Results showed that higher level students preferred the CMP over the traditional books and lower level students felt more frustrated with the new method.
“ findings showed that in their former (traditional) math classes students primarily learned basic math skills such as multiplication and division, while both high and low level students said that with CMP they could see how math was connected to real life and it made them think more about the mathematics they were learning”
Another example of successfully PBL in mathematics showed the effects on the level of instructional scaffolding on students’ use of Geometer’s Sketchpad.
Geometer’s Sketchpad is a computer program used for geometry that supports the constructivist learning environment.
“ The goal was to determine the relative effectiveness of teacher-directed approach compared to a student-directed approach of utilizing sketchpad to complete a project-based learning task.
One student in the student-centered (PBL) group commented that although she was frustrated when her computer crashed and her work was not saved, she was able to recreate her work without help from her teacher “I believe this shows that we know what we are doing to the point that we are comfortable enough with our project that we can do it on our own. I’m feeling good about this project!”
After completing an assessment asking students to identify transformations, The mean score for the teacher-centered group was 5.25 While the score for the PBL group was 3.75 Indicating that students in the teacher-centered group were more successful in demonstrating their knowledge via an assessment.
In another study, a group of graduate students at Stanford who followed cohorts of students from their freshman to their senior years in urban California High Schools.
Two schools were taught using traditional methods and one was taught via PBL type model
by senior year 41% of those students were taking advanced classes of pre-calculus or calculus as opposed to 27% from the other schools.
Students from the non-traditional school learned more, enjoyed mathematics more, and progressed to higher levels of mathematics than students in the other two schools.
In fact, when asked how to be successful in mathematics, most students from the traditional teaching approached answered ‘paying careful attention’ and regarded math as simply a set of procedures and in order to succeed they needed to pay close attention to the teachers procedures.