The Effects of Project-Based Learning (PBL) Approach on the Achievement and Efficacy of High School Mathematics Students: A Longitudinal Study Investigating the Effects of the PBL Approach in Mathematics Education.

Anna Filcik, Kristen Bosch, Samuel Pederson, Nicholas Haugen


Project-Based Learning (PBL) is a teaching method that is significantly different from the conventional classroom teaching; however, the positive effects of PBL have not been clearly established. This longitudinal study investigates the effect of Project-Based Learning on secondary mathematics’ students in order to determine both academic skill development and motivational factors that affect learning. Motivational factors to be measured include self-regulation, self-efficacy, and learning strategies. Unlike previous studies conducted in conventional school environments, this study is conducted on a dedicated project-based high school, where PBL is not being used as additional or supplemental teaching, but as a whole curriculum. This study provides the opportunity for teachers to reflect on the effectiveness of this pedagogical approach to mathematics teaching and learning. Because this study’s participants represent a wide range of mathematical abilities and demographic diversity, it may bring clarity on controversial issues regarding the benefits of PBL on certain populations. Specifically, PBL has been shown to work well with students who already have a deep conceptual knowledge of the subject matter, but it may be less effective with those possessing only surface knowledge (Vernon & Blake, 1993; Dochy, Segers, van den bossche, & Gijbels, 2003). In addition, the benefits of PBL on low SES students are debated (Boaler, 2002; Delpit, 1988, Lubienski, 2000). Even though research shows that elementary mathematics students benefit from PBL, very little evidence is associated with secondary success (Petrosino, 2004; Strobel & Van Barneveld, 2009; Walker & Leary, 2009). Hence, this study provides a unique opportunity for teachers to understand the additional dimension of PBL approach on these various populations.


PBL; mathematics; education

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