A Meta-Analysis of the Effects of Problem- and Project-based Learning on Academic Achievement in Grades 6-12 Populations
Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy in Education (PhD)
First Advisor/Committee Member
Arthur K. Ellis
Second Advisor/Committee Member
Third Advisor/Committee Member
John B. Bond
meta-analysis, problem-based learning, project-based learning, middle school, junior high school, high school
Researchers and proponents of problem- and project-based learning (PBL) indicate that PBL as a curriculum and instruction approach (Savery, 2006; Schmidt, Loyens, Van Gog, & Paas, 2007) provides an effective way for teachers to respond to students’ needs, provides opportunities for students to actively engage in and take responsibility for learning by engaging in meaningful and relevant work, and provides students opportunities to directly apply their knowledge and skills (Hmelo-Silver & DeSimone, 2013; McCombs, 2010; Parker et al., 2011). Although primary research within secondary (6-12) contexts indicated that problem-and project based learning (PBL) is often superior to traditional, lecture-based instruction (Mergendoller, Maxwell, & Bellisimo, 2006; Wirkala & Kuhn, 2011) and meta-analyses at the post-secondary level indicated that PBL is at par with or superior to traditional, lecture-based instruction (Dochy, Segers, Van den Bossche, & Gijbels, 2003; Vernon & Blake, 1993; Walker & Leary, 2009), a synthesized and quantified exploration of the strength of relationship between PBL and academic achievement within middle high school student populations (Grades 6-12) was needed. The results in this meta-analysis indicate that overall, PBL students outperformed traditionally instructed students, g = 0.54, on content and skills exams across academic subject types and grade levels. Analysis of the funnel plot suggests publication bias; however, an adjustment of the mean effect using Duval and Tweedie’s (2000) Trim and Fill rendered a similar summary effect of g = 0.50. Although the mean summary effect is relatively robust, effect sizes varied depending on subject area and specific types of outcome measures. The test of homogeneity indicated that 90.49% of the variance between studies was unexplained. An insufficient number of studies rendered meta-regression unfeasible, hindering exploration of possible explanations for this variance.
Jensen, Kimberly J., "A Meta-Analysis of the Effects of Problem- and Project-based Learning on Academic Achievement in Grades 6-12 Populations" (2015). Education Dissertations. 7.
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