Main Article Content
Project-based learning (PjBL) is an approach often favored in STEM classrooms, yet some studies have shown that teachers struggle to implement it with academic rigor. This paper explores the relationship between PjBL and rigor in the classrooms of ten STEM-oriented high schools. Utilizing three different data sources reflecting three different perceptions—student surveys, teacher logs, and classroom observations—the study examines the extent to which PjBL and rigor co-occur. Across all three measures, the results show that use of PjBL is associated with higher levels of rigor. However, the study also shows that academic rigor can be present in the absence of PjBL, and that PjBL can be implemented with low levels of rigor. The paper concludes with implications for practice.
1. Publication and Promotion: In consideration of the Publisher’s agreement to publish the Work, Author hereby grants and assigns to Publisher the non-exclusive right to print, publish, reproduce, or distribute the Work throughout the world in all means of expression by any method now known or hereafter developed, including electronic format, and to market or sell the Work orany part of it as Publisher sees fit. Author further grants Publisher the right to use Author’s name in association with the Work inpublished form and in advertising and promotional materials
2. Copyright: Copyright of the Work remains in Author’s name.
3. Prior Publication and Attribution: Author agrees not to publish the Work in print form prior to publication of the Work by the Publisher. Author agrees to cite, by author, title, and publisher, the original Interdisciplinary Journal of Problem-based Learning publication when publishing the Work elsewhere
4. Author Representations: The Author represents and warrants that the Work:
(a) is the Author’s original Work and that Author has full power to enter into this Agreement;
(b) does not infringe the copyright or property of another;
(c) contains no material which is obscene, libelous, defamatory or previously published, in whole or in part.
Author shall indemnify and hold Publisher harmless against loss of expenses arising from breach of any such warranties.
5. Licensing and Reuse: Reuse of the published Work will be governed by a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0; http://creativecommons.org/licenses/ by-nc/4.0/). This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon the Work non-commercially; although new works must acknowledge the original Interdisciplinary Journal of Problem-based Learning publication and be non-commercial, they do not have to be licensed on the same terms.
Achieve. (2004). Ready or not? Creating a high school diploma that counts. Retrieved from www.achieve.org/dstore.nsf/lookup/ADPreport/$file/ADPreport.pdf
ACT Inc. (2007). Rigor at risk: Reaffirming quality in the high school core curriculum. Author: Washington, DC.
Asghar, A., Ellington, R., Rice, E., Johnson, F., & Prime, G. M. (2012). Supporting STEM education in secondary science contexts. Interdisciplinary Journal of Problem-based Learning, 6(2), 85–125.
Ball, D. L., Camburn, E., Correnti, R., Phelps, G., & Wallace, R. (December, 1999). New tools for research on instruction and instructional policy: A web-based teacher log. Seattle: Center for the Study of Teaching and Policy.
Berger, A., Turk-Bicakci, L., Garet, M., Knudson, J., & Hoshen, G. (2014). Early college, continued success. Washington, DC: American Institutes of Research.
Berger, A., Turk-Bicakci, L., Garet, M., Song, M., Knudson, J., Haxton, C., et al. (2013). Early college, early success: Early college high school initiative impact study. Washington, DC: American Institutes of Research & SRI International.
Black, P., & Wiliam, D. (1998). Inside the black box: Raising standards through classroom assessment. Phi Delta Kappan, 80(2), 139–148.
Bloom, B. S. (1956). Taxonomy of educational objectives, Vol.1: The cognitive domain. New York: McKay.
Bol, L., & Strage, A. (1996). The contradiction between teachers’ instructional goals and their assessment practices in high school biology courses. Science Education, 80(2), 145–163.
Boser, U., & Rosenthal, L. (2012). Do schools challenge our students? What student surveys tell us about the state of education in the United States. Washington, DC: Center for American Progress.
Boston, M., & Wolf, M. K. (2006). Assessing academic rigor in mathematics instruction: The development of the instruc- tional quality assessment toolkit. Los Angeles: National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards and Student Testing, University of California, Los Angeles.
Bryk, A. S., Nagaoka, J. K., & Newmann, F. M. (2000). Chicago classroom demands for authentic intellectual work: Trends from 1997–1999. Chicago: Consortium on Chicago School Research.
Buck Institute of Education. (n.d.). What is project-based Learning? Retrieved August 31, 2015, from http://bie.org/about/what_pbl
Buck Institute of Education. (2015). Gold standard PBL: Essential project design elements. http://www.bie.org/object/document/gold_standard_pbl_essential_project_design_elements
Burris, C. C., Welner, K. G., Wiley, E. W., & Murphy, J. (2008). Accountability, rigor, and detracking: Achievement effects of embracing a challenging curriculum as a universal good for all students. Teachers College Record, 110(3), 571–607.
Cook, N. D., & Weaver, G. C. (2015). Teachers’ implementation of project-based learning: Lessons from the research goes to school program. Electronic Journal of Science Education, 19(6).
Creswell, J. W., Plano Clark, V. L., Gutmann, M. L., & Hanson, W. E. (2003). Advanced mixed methods research designs. In A. Tashakkori & C. Teddlie (Eds.), Handbook of mixed methods in social and behavioral research (pp. 209–240). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.
De Jong, R., & Westerhof, K. J. (2001). The quality of student ratings of teacher behaviour. Learning Environments Research, 4(1), 51–85.
Dochy, F., Segers, M., Van de Bossche, P., & Gijbels, D. (2003). Effects of problem-based learning: A meta-analysis. Learning and Instruction, 13, 533–568.
Doppelt, Y., & Schunn, C. D. (2008). Identifying students’ perceptions of the important classroom features affecting learning aspects of a design-based learning environment. Learning Environments Research, 11(3), 195–209.
Dorman, J. P. (2001). Associations between classroom environment and academic efficacy. Learning Environments Research, 4(3), 243–257.
Edmunds, J. A., Bernstein, L., Unlu, F., Glennie, E., Willse, J., Smith, A., et al. (2012). Expanding the start of the college pipeline: Ninth grade findings from an experimental study of the impact of the early college high school model. Jour- nal for Research on Educational Effectiveness, 5(2), 136–159.
Edmunds, J. A., Unlu, F., Glennie, E., Bernstein, L., Fesler, L., Furey, J., et al. (2016). Smoothing the transition to postsecondary education: The impact of the early college model. Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/19345747.2016.1191574
English, M. C., & Kitsantas, A. (2013). Supporting student self-regulated learning in problem- and project-based learning. Interdisciplinary Journal of Problem-based Learning, 7(2), 128–150.
Epstein, D., & Miller, R. T. (2011). Slow off the mark: Elementary school teachers and the crisis in science, technology, engineering and math education. Washington, DC: Center for American Progress.
Ernst, J. V., & Glennie, E. J. (2015). Redesigned high schools for transformed STEM learning: Performance pilot out- comes. Journal of STEM Education, 16(4), 40–48.
Finkelstein, N., Hanson, T., Huang, C.-w., Hirschman, B., & Huang, M. (2010). Effects of problem based economics on high school economics instruction. Washington, DC: National Center for Educational Evaluation and Regional Assistance, Institute of Education Sciences, US Department of Education.
Fraser, B. J., & Fisher, D. L. (1982). Predicting students’ outcomes from their perceptions of classroom psychosocial environment. American Education Research Journal, 19(4), 498–518.
Gitomer, D., Bell, C., Yi, Q. I., McCaffrey, D., Hamre, B. K., & Pianta, R. C. (2014). The instructional challenge in improv- ing teaching quality: Lessons from a classroom observa- tion protocol. Teachers College Record, 116(6), 1–32.
Glennie, E., Dalton, B., & Mason, M. (2014). Feeling inter- ested in and prepared for a STEM future: The influence of STEM schools in North Carolina. Paper presented at the Bridging the Gap STEM education conference.
Glennie, E., Mason, M., & Dalton, B. (2016). The impact of STEM schools on high school success in North Carolina. Paper presented at the American Educational Research Association 2016 Annual Meeting, Washington, DC.
Goodnough, K., & Cashion, M. (2006). Exploring problem- based learning in the context of high school science: Design and implementation issues. School Science and Mathematics, 106(7), 280–295.
Grubb, W. N., & Oakes, J. (2007). “Restoring value” to the high school diploma: The rhetoric and practice of higher standards. Education and the Public Interest Center at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and Education Policy Research Unit at Arizona State University.
Han, S., Yalvac, B., Capraro, M. M., & Capraro, R. M. (2015). Inservice teachers’ implementation and understanding of STEM project based learning. Eurasia Journal of Mathematics, Science and Technology Education, 11(1), 63–76.
Harada, V. H., Kirio, C., & Yamamoto, S. (2008). Project-based learning: Rigor and relevance in high schools. Library Media Connection, 26(6), 14–16.
Hmelo-Silver, C. E. (2004). Problem-based learning: What and how do students learn? Educational Psychology Review, 16(3), 235–266.
Holm, M. (2011). Project-based instruction: A review of the literature on effectiveness in prekindergarten through 12th grade classrooms. Insight: Rivier Academic Journal, 7(2), 1–13.
Horizon Research, Inc. (2000). Local systemic change through teacher enhancement classroom observation protocol. Chapel Hill, NC: Author.
Huffman, D., Thomas, K., & Lawrenz, F. (2003). Relationship between professional development, teachers’ instructional practices, and the achievement of students in science and mathematics. School Science & Mathematics, 103(8), 378–387.
Kanter, D. E., & Konstantopolous, S. (2010). The impact of a project-based science curriculum on minority student achievement, attitudes, and careers: The Effects of teacher content and pedagogical content knowledge and inquiry- based practices. Science Education, 94(5), 855–887.
Kay, K., & Houlihan, T. (2006, May 17). Redefining rigor for a new century. Education Week.
Krathwohl, D. R. (2002). A revision of Bloom’s Taxonomy: An overview. Theory into Practice, 41(4), 212–264.
Kunter, M., & Baumert, J. (2006). Who is the expert? Construct and criteria validity of student and teacher ratings of instruction. Learning Environments Research, 9(3), 231–251.
Larmer, J., & Mergendoller, J. R. (2010). The main course, not dessert: How are students reaching 21st century goals? With 21st century learning. Buck Institute of Education.
Lee, H., & Bae, S. (2008). Issues in implementing a structured problem-based learning strategy in a volcano unit: A case study. International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 6, 655–676.
Lewis-Beck, M. S., Bryman, A., & Futing Liao, T. (Eds.). (2004). The SAGE encyclopedia of social science research methods. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.
Marx, R. W., Blumenfeld, P. C., Krajcik, J. S., Blunk, M., Crawford, B., Kelly, B., et al. (1994). Enacting project- based science: Experiences of four middle grade teachers. The Elementary School Journal, 94(5), 517–538.
Matsumura, L. C., Garnier, H. E., Pascal, J., & Valdes, R. (2002). Measuring instructional quality in accountability systems: Classroom assignments and student achievement. Los Angeles: National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards and Testing, University of California, Los Angeles.
Matsumura, L. C., Slater, S. C., & Crosson, A. (2008). Classroom climate, rigorous instruction and curriculum, and students’ interactions in urban middle schools. The Ele- mentary School Journal, 108(4), 293–312.
Matusevich, M. N., O’Conner, K. A., & Hargett, M. P. (2009). The non-negotiables of academic rigor. Gifted Child Quarterly, 32(4), 45–52.
Mayer, D. P. (1999). Measuring instructional practice: Can policymakers trust survey data? Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 21(1), 29–45.
McCombs, B. L., Daniels, D. H., & Perry, K. E. (2008). Children’s and teachers’ perceptions of learner-centered practices, and student motivation: Implications for early schooling. The Elementary School Journal, 109(1), 16–35.
Mitchell, K., Shkolnik, J., Song, M., Uekawa, K., Murphy, R., Garet, M., et al. (2005). Rigor, relevance, and results: The quality of teacher assignments and student work in new and conventional high schools. Washington, DC and Menlo Park, CA: American Institutes of Research and SRI, International.
Mosier, G. G., Bradley-Levine, J., & Perkins, T. (2016). Students’ perceptions of project-based learning within the New Tech school model. International Journal of Education Reform, 25(1), 2–15.
National High School Alliance. (2006). Defining rigor in high school: Framework and assessment tool. Washington, DC: Institute for Educational Leadership.
National Research Council. (1996). National science education standards. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
New Tech Network. (n.d.). Project-based learning. Retrieved July 30, 2015, from http://www.newtechnetwork.org/about/project-based-learning
Newmann, F. M., Bryk, A. S., & Nagaoka, J. K. (2001, January). Authentic intellectual work and standardized tests: Conflict or coexistence? Chicago: Consortium on Chicago School Research.
Newmann, F. M., Lopez, G., & Bryk, A. S. (1998, October). The quality of intellectual work in Chicago schools: A baseline report. Chicago: Consortium on Chicago School Research.
North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. (n.d.). Rigor Rubric for Education Programs. Retrieved March 10, 2016, from http://www.dpi.state.nc.us/aig/resources/reports/nonnegotiables
North Carolina New Schools. (2013). North Carolina New Schools Design Principles. Retrieved October 14, 2014, from http://ncnewschools.org/uploads/library/1054-revised-design-principle-rubrics.pdf
Partnership for 21st Century Learning. (2015). P21 framework definitions. http://www.p21.org/storage/documents/docs/P21_Framework_Definitions_New_Logo_2015.pdf
Peter D. Hart Research Associates/Public Opinion Strategies. (2005). Rising to the challenge: Are high school graduates prepared for college and work? Washington, DC: Achieve.
Pianta, R. C., Hamre, B. K., & Mintz, S. (2011). Classroom Assessment Scoring System: Secondary manual. Charlottesville, VA: Teachstone.
Rowan, B., Camburn, E., & Correnti, R. (2004). Using teacher logs to measure the enacted curriculum: A study of literacy teaching in third grade classrooms. The Elementary School Journal, 105(1), 75–101.
Rowan, B., Jacob, R., & Correnti, R. (2009). Using instructional logs to identify quality in educational settings. New Directions for Youth Development, 2009(121), 13–31.
Savery, J. R. (2006). Overview of problem-based learning: Definitions and distinctions. Interdisciplinary Journal of Problem-based Learning, 1(1), 9–20. http://dx.doi.org/10.7771/1541-5015.1002.
Sawada, D., Piburn, M. D., & Judson, E. (2002). Measuring reform practices in science and mathematics classrooms: The reformed teaching observation protocol. School Science & Mathematics, 102(6), 245–253.
Schneider, R. M., Krajcik, J. S., & Blumenfeld, P., C. (2005). Enacting reform-based science materials: The range of teacher enactments in reform classrooms. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 42(3), 283–312.
Stein, M. K., & Lane, S. (1996). Instructional tasks and the development of student capacity to think and reason: An analysis of the relationship between teaching and learning in a reform mathematics project. Educational Research and Evaluation, 2(1), 50–80.
Subban, P. (2006). Differentiated instruction: A research basis. International Education Journal, 7(7), 935–947.
Tal, T., Krajcik, J. S., & Blumenfeld, P. C. (2006). Urban schools’ teachers enacting project-based science. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 43(7), 722–745.
Tamim, S. R., & Grant, M. M. (2013). Definitions and uses: Case study of teachers implementing Project-based Learning. Interdisciplinary Journal of Problem-based Learning, 7(2), 71–101.
Wagner, T. (2008). Rigor redefined. Educational Leadership, 66(2), 20–25.
Walker, A., & Leary, H. (2009). A problem-based learning meta-analysis: Differences across problems, implementation types. Interdisciplinary Journal of Problem-based Learning, 3(1), 12–43.
Yazzie-Mintz, E. (2010). Charting the path from engagement to achievement: A report on the 2009 High School Survey of Student Engagement. Bloomington, IN: Center for Evaluation and Education Policy.
YouthTruth Survey. (n.d.). YouthTruth student survey: Design & methodology. San Francisco, CA.