Award Date

8-1-2015

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Curriculum & Instruction

First Committee Member

Hasan Deniz

Second Committee Member

Kendall Hartley

Third Committee Member

Danielle B. Brown

Fourth Committee Member

Brendan O'Toole

Number of Pages

216

Abstract

As we progress into the 21st century, higher-order thinking skills and achievement in science and math are essential to meet the educational requirement of STEM careers. Educators need to think of innovative ways to engage and prepare students for current and future challenges while cultivating an interest among students in STEM disciplines. An instructional pedagogy that can capture students’ attention, support interdisciplinary STEM practices, and foster higher-order thinking skills is problem-based learning. Problem-based learning embedded in the social constructivist view of teaching and learning (Savery & Duffy, 1995) promotes self-regulated learning that is enhanced through exploration, cooperative social activity, and discourse (Fosnot, 1996).

This quasi-experimental mixed methods study was conducted with 98 fourth grade students. The study utilized STEM content assessments, a standardized critical thinking test, STEM attitude survey, PBL questionnaire, and field notes from classroom observations to investigate the impact of problem-based learning on students’ content knowledge, critical thinking, and their attitude towards STEM. Subsequently, it explored students’ experiences of STEM integration in a PBL environment. The quantitative results revealed a significant difference between groups in regards to their content knowledge, critical thinking skills, and STEM attitude. From the qualitative results, three themes emerged: learning approaches, increased interaction, and design and engineering implementation. From the overall data set, students described the PBL environment to be highly interactive that prompted them to employ multiple approaches, including design and engineering to solve the problem

Keywords

Problem-based learning; Social Constructivism; STEM Education

Disciplines

Education | Science and Mathematics Education

Language

English


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