Project Based Learning in Middle Grades Mathematics
National Middle School Association (2010)
This research summary from the National Middle School Association describes PBL as a method of instruction that can help engage students in active learning by providing relevant, challenging curriculum. The focus of this research summary is
"to foster an understanding of project-based learning (PBL), particularly in mathematics education; to explain the factors for making a conscious decision to implement PBL in middle grades mathematics classrooms; and to provide insights about the possible realized effects when mathematics-based PBL is implemented".
The report, titled "Project Based Learning in Middle Grades Mathematics" describes how PBL is consistent with of each of their "this we believe" framework for more effective schooling.
This We Believe: Keys to Educating Young Adolescents (2010) provides a list of 16 research based characteristics of effective middle grades education.
This includes the following characteristics in the area of curriculum, instruction, and assessment:
• Students and teachers engaged in active learning
Instructional practices place students at the center of the learning process. As they develop the ability to hypothesize, to organize information into useful and meaningful constructs, and to grasp long-term cause and effect relationships, students are ready and able to play a major role in their own learning and education.
• Curriculum that is relevant, challenging, integrative, and exploratory
An effective middle level curriculum is distinguished by learning activities that appeal to young adolescents, is exploratory and challenging, and incorporates student-generated questions and concerns.
• Multiple learning and teaching approaches that respond to student diversity
Teaching and learning approaches should accommodate the diverse skills, abilities, and prior knowledge of young adolescents, cultivate multiple intelligences, draw upon students' individual learning styles, and utilize digital tools. When learning experiences capitalize on students' cultural, experiential, and personal backgrounds, new concepts are built on knowledge students already possess.
• Assessment and evaluation programs that promote quality learning
Continuous, authentic, and appropriate assessment measures, including both formative and summative ones, provide evidence about every student's learning progress. Such information helps students, teachers, and family members select immediate learning goals and plan further education.