PBL Home Page

Outline of These Materials

1. Future of ICT in Education

2. Learning Goals in a PBL Lesson

3. What is ICT-Assisted PBL?

4. Planning a PBL Lesson

5. Authoring a Hypermedia Document

6. Timeline and Milestones

7. Assessment

8. FAQ and Conclusions


Send Email to Website Author Dave Moursund

Annotated References

Web-based materials useful to teachers considering increased use of PBL.

General References

Alexandria Digital Library Project. Accessed 2/6/06: http://www.alexandria.ucsb.edu/. Quoting from the Website:

The Alexandria Digital Library (ADL) contains more than 15,000 holdings, such as maps, images, and datasets, that are available online for public download over the Internet. The items currently cataloged in ADL are a portion of the holdings of the University of California, Santa Barbara's Map and Imagery Laboratory.

Comment from Moursund: The site contains an innovative interface that begins with a global map. The user can indicate a place on the map and ask for an expansion of that place. Doing this repeatedly allows one to narrow in on a geographic location.

Archives of PBL@JISCMAIL.AC.UK (n.d.). Accessed 8/4/05: http://www.jiscmail.ac.uk/lists/pbl.html.

This site contains archives going back to April 2001 for a discussion group focusing on PBL.

Armstrong, Sara (2002) The Key Learning Community: Cultivating "Multiple Intelligences". Accessed 3/8/05: http://glef.org/keylearning.html.

This article describes a public K-12 school in Indianapolis, Indiana that makes extensive use of Project-Based Learning, implementing it in a Howard Gardner-type Multiple Intelligences teaching and learning environment. The Website is maintained by the George Lucas Educational Foundation. The George Lucas Educational Foundation is a nonprofit organization that documents and disseminates models of the most innovative practices in K-12 schools. Many of its reports include a fosus on use of computers in PBL.

Authentic Assessment. Search on the term Authentic Assessment using the Google Search Engine http://www.google.com/. You will find a number of good references.On 3/8/05 Google identified more than a million hits. Grant Wiggins is a leader in this field, so a specific search of his work may be useful to you.

Brookhart, Susan M. (1999). The Art and Science of Classroom Assessment: The Missing Part of Pedagogy. ERIC Digest. Accessed 3/8/05: http://www.ericdigests.org/2000-2/art.htm. Quoting from the Website:

"Assessment" means to gather and interpret information about students' achievement, and "achievement" means the level of attainment of learning goals of college courses. Assessing students' achievement is generally accomplished through tests, classroom and take-home assignments, and assigned projects. Strictly speaking, "assessment" refers to assignments and tasks that provide information, and "evaluation" refers to judgments based on that information.

How Can An Instructor Ensure The Quality Of Information From Classroom Assessments?

Information from classroom assessments--grades, scores, and judgments about students' work resulting from tests, assignments, projects, and other work--must be meaningful and accurate (that is, valid and reliable). The results of assessment should be indicators of the particular learning goals for the course, measuring those goals in proportion to their emphasis in the course. An instructor should be confident that students' scores accurately represent their level of achievement. "The Art and Science of Classroom Assessment" describes five different kinds of learning goals or "achievement targets": knowledge of facts and concepts (recall); thinking, reasoning, and problem solving using one's knowledge; skill in procedures or processes, such as using a microscope; constructing projects, reports, artwork, or other products; and dispositions, such as appreciating the importance of a discipline. Different methods of assessment are better suited for measuring different kinds of achievement.

What Methods Of Assessment Are Particularly Suited To Various Achievement Targets, And How Are They Constructed, Administered, And Scored?

Four basic methods of assessment are presented: paper-and-pencil tests, performance assessments, oral questions, and portfolios. Paper-and-pencil tests are the most commonly used form of assessment in higher education. Performance assessments are tasks and associated scoring schemes ("rubrics") that require students to make or do something whose quality can be observed and judged. Oral questions are commonly asked in the context of classroom discussions, more often in smaller seminar-style classes than in large lecture sections. Portfolios are collections of students' work over time, according to some purpose and guiding principles; they usually include students' reflection on the work. "The Art and Science of Classroom Assessment" provides suggestions about writing good tests, performance tasks, oral questions, and portfolio specifications, and about constructing scoring schemes that examine performance according to learning goals. Two kinds of scoring--objective, requiring a right/wrong or yes/no decision, and subjective, requiring judgments of quality along a continuum--and principles for devising scoring schemes and examples are described.

Center for Technology and Teacher Education--Content Areas. Accessed 3/8/05: http://www.teacherlink.org/content/.

One of the goals in Teacher Education at the University of Virginia is to integrate computer technology into the various discipline areas. This Website provides information on integration into Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies. There is quite a bit of focus on PBL.

Concord Consortium (n.d.). Accessed 3/9/05: http://www.concord.org/projects/. Quoting from the Website:

The Concord Consortium undertakes innovative projects that bridge the gap between research and practice. Some projects are at the level of nuts-and-bolts technology, while others focus on learners. In all cases our projects strive to create new structures for learning and are strategically placed to achieve important long-term goals.

Comment from Dave Moursund: This is a very good resource. Many of their projects are designed so that students from around the country or around the world can be active participants.

Cooperative Learning (n.d.). Cooperative Learning Center at University of Minnesota.. Accessed 3/9/05: http://www.co-operation.org/. Quoting from the Website:

What is Cooperative Learning?

Cooperative Learning is a relationship in a group of students that requires positive interdependence (a sense of sink or swim together), individual accountability (each of us has to contribute and learn), interpersonal skills (communication, trust, leadership, decision making, and conflict resolution), face-to-face promotive interaction, and processing (reflecting on how well the team is functioning and how to function even better).

What does the Cooperative Learning Center do?

The Cooperative Learning Center is a Research and Training Center focusing on how students should interact with each other as they learn and the skills needed to interact effectively.

TheTech (n.d.). The Technology Museum of Innovation. Accessed 3/9/05: http://www.thetech.org/learning/challenge/design/. Quoting from the Website:

The Tech Museum of Innovation is an educational resource established to engage people of all ages and backgrounds in exploring and experiencing technologies affecting their lives, and to inspire the young to become innovators in the technologies of the future.

Design Challenge is The Tech's signature pedagogy where students engage in the design process to solve a relevant, authentic, real-world problem. Students apply and reinforce their Science content knowledge, as well as Social Studies and Language Arts through an open-ended design process that results in an original solution. Students take responsibility for assessing their own progress and incorporate peer feedback.

Design Challenges are student-centered and collaborative, forcing students to utilize personal experiences, interests, and abilities to enhance the learning of the team. They allow each and every student to leverage his or her potential. The design challenge creates powerful, intrinsic inspiration to learn and pride in achieving a goal.

Distance Learning (n.d.). Accessed 3/9/05: http://www.nacol.org/

A faculty member may be interested in carrying out some or all aspects of a PBL lesson via distance learning. This distance learning Website provides a good introduction to the field.

FREE (n.d.). Federal Resources for Educational Excellence. Accessed 3/9/05: http://www.ed.gov/free/index.html.

This Website contains links to a huge number of solid sources of information that students can use as they design and carry out projects. About 50 US Federal agencies contribute content to this Website, and new content is regularly being added. This is a wonderful collection of resources.

George Lucas Foundation (n.d.). Project-Based Learning. Accessed 3/9/05: http://www.edutopia.org/modules/PBL/index.php. Quoting from the Website:

The Project-Based Learning (PBL) module is designed for either a two- to three-hour class or session or a one- to two-day workshop, and is divided into two parts.

Part One, Guided Process, is designed to give participants a brief introduction to project-based learning. It answers the questions "Why is Project-Based Learning Important?"; "What is Project-Based Learning?"; and "How Does Project-Based Learning Work?" The Guided Process includes the Teaching About PBL section and a PowerPoint® presentation, including presenter notes. This presentation can be shown directly from the Web site or can be downloaded for use as a stand-alone slide show. The video segment, "Newsome Park" demonstrates project-based learning in action at Newsome Park Elementary School in Newport News, Virginia. The Teaching About PBL section contains two additional examples (Journey North and Mountlake Terrace High School) of project-based learning.

Part Two, Group Participation, assigns readings and activities for experiential, project-based learning. Ideally, the tasks will be accomplished using group collaboration and with the use of technology.

Harrington, Thomas F. (1995). Assessment of Abilities. ERIC Digest. Accessed 3/9/05: http://www.ericdigests.org/1996-3/abilities.htm. Quoting from the Website:

This article includes a discussion of self-assessment. Quoting the Abstract: "This digest recommends assessing all of a person's abilities, not just some. It also discusses self-report in the context of ability assessment. Current use of self assessment methodology taps more ability areas than existing ability or aptitude tests cover. Alternative testing approaches have been called for which enhance self-discovery and awareness. Some recent self-report studies show at least comparable validity with more traditional approaches. Some researchers are advocating the self-assessment methodology which can substantially cut loss of instructional time and cost, evaluate hard-to-assess constructs, and deliver information most people feel is useful for self-knowledge and career planning. Philosophically, the process of self-evaluation fits the belief that individuals are in the best position to assess since they have access to a large data base on their own successes and failures in their abilities. Most misgivings about the methodology seem to center around beliefs that individuals have a tendency to be lenient and are not objective enough in their self-analysis to provide accurate self-reports.

CONCLUSION of the Digest Article: Current use of self-assessment methodology taps more ability areas than existing ability or aptitude tests cover. Alternative testing approaches have been called for which enhance self discovery and awareness. Some recent self-report studies show at least comparable validity with more traditional approaches. Some researchers are advocating the self-assessment methodology which can substantially cut loss of instructional time and cost, evaluate hard-to-assess constructs, and deliver information most people feel is useful for self knowledge and career planning. Philosophically, the process of self evaluation fits the belief that individuals are in the best position to assess since they have access to a large data base on their own successes and failures in their abilities. Most misgivings about the methodology seem to center around beliefs that individuals have a tendency to be lenient and are not objective enough in their self analysis to provide accurate self reports."

HyperHistory (n.d.). Accessed 3/9/05: http://www.hyperhistory.com/online_n2/History_n2/a.html. Quoting from the Website:

HyperHistory presents 3,000 years of world history with a combination of colorful graphics, lifelines, timelines, and maps.

Over 2,000 files are interconnected throughout the site. In addition to that HyperHistory provides several hundred links to the world wide web. The growing site itself contains presently over 50 MB of images and text files, but individual gif files are kept small enough to allow for a quick display.

Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy (n.d.). . An Introduction to Problem-Based Learning. Accessed 3/9/05: http://www.imsa.edu/team/cpbl/

This Website uses a definition of Problem-Based Learning that is quite similar to what most people call Project-Based Learning. The general idea is that an ill-structured problem is posed, and then students work on the problem.The following table is quoted from the Website.

Teacher as coach

Student as active problem-solver

Problem as initial challenge and motivation

Models/coaches/fades in:

  • Asking about thinking
  • Monitoring learning
  • Probing/challenging students' thinking
  • Keeping students involved
  • Monitoring/ adjusting levels of challenge
  • Managing group dynamics
  • Keeping process moving
  • Student as active problem-solver:

Student as active problem-solver:

  • Active participant
  • Engaged
  • Constructing meaning


Problem as initial challenge and motivation to attention:

  • Ill-structured
  • Appeals to human desire for resolution/ stasis/harmony
  • Sets up need for and context of learning which follows

Maryland Virtual High School of Science and Mathematics. Accessed 3/9/05: http://mvhs1.mbhs.edu/.

This Virtual High School involves students from many campuses. Much of the "classwork" can be classified as Problem-Based Learning, , and the PBL routinely makes use of powerful computer hardware and software. Quoting from the Website:
Preparing students to "do" science in the real world of the future means guiding them in "doing" science now. The Maryland Virtual High School of Science and Mathematics entails bringing to the classroom the same team problem solving, technology rich approaches currently used in research and business. Computational science has become a powerful paradigm to complement other approaches. Computational tools, ranging from spread- sheets on microprocessors to advanced molecular modeling tools on supercomputers, are allowing scientists to model processes too costly or impossible to investigate in other ways.

McGrath, Diane (n.d.). Project-Based Learning with Technology. Accessed 9/30/05: http://coe.ksu.edu/pbl. Quoting from the Website:

This PBL Web site is designed to accompany Diane McGrath's regular column on Project-Based Learning in ISTE's journal, Learning and Leading with Technology. This site has links to the resources mentioned in each column and will have new links as we discover them.

McREL (n.d.).Content Knowledge: 4th Edition. Accessed 3/9/05:

National K-12 Standards have been developed in many different curriculum areas. In many of the curriculum areas, the National Standards include specific reference to ICT. National Assessment is an important but often controversial vehicle in educational policy and politics.

Microsoft Virtual Classroom Tours (n.d.) Accessed 3/9/05: http://www.microsoft.com/education/?ID=InTeachersVCT. Quoting from the Websote:

Teachers learn best from other teachers. Virtual Classroom Tours offer the resources to lead students through creative, constructivist, technology-rich projects for all grade levels and subject areas.

Moursund, D.G. (1999) Project-Based Learning in an Information Technology Environment. Eugene, OR: ISTE. A more recent version (2003) of this book is available for purchase from the International Society for Technology in Education.

The following chapters from the 1999 edition of the book are available at the Website: (Accessed 2/11/06): http://darkwing.uoregon.edu/~moursund/


Chapter 1: Introduction and a PBL Example

Chapter 2: Overview of ICT-assisted PBL

Chapter 3: Some PBL Lesson Topic Ideas

Chapter 4: The Case for PBL

Chapter 7: Assessment in ICT-assisted PBL

Appendix C: Overview of Problem Solving

In addition, click here to access a pdf of Chapter 6: Creating a PBL Lesson Plan.

Moursund, D.G. (2003) Project-Based Learning in an Information Technology Environment. Eugene, OR: ISTE. This book can be purchased from ISTE.

My Design Primer (n.d.). Accessed 3/9/05: http://www.mydesignprimer.com/index.html. Quoting from the Website:

Design Studio is a company that focuses on producing effective communication and marketing materials while maintaining personal client relationships. We believe that, by communicating effectively with our clients, we can understand their goals and they can make the best choices for their needs and budgets.

This site was created to assist our clients and others in understanding the often confusing terms and ideas connected with print and electronic media. With over 150 articles to choose from (and more on the way), we've worked to create a truly useful resource.

This site contains five categories and, within them, sub-categories and a variety of topics. We've designed this site so that you're never more than two clicks away from the information you need. If you're not sure where to start, try a selected topic (to the left) or our search engine (below). Thanks for stopping by and please come again.

NetPBL (n.d.) Networked Project-Based Learning. Accessed 3/9/05: http://www.gsn.org/web/pbl/pblintro.htm.

Quoting from the Website:

The orientation of this Website is Problem-Based learning, rather than Project-Based Learning as is suggested by the title. Quoting from the Website:

We use the term NetPBL (Networked Project-Based Learning) to describe online collaborative learning.

There is nothing new about Project-Based Learning (PBL). Good teachers have always used projects as a supplement to their regular course of instruction. Any teacher who has taken a group on a field trip, had students enter projects in a science fair, had a class garden, collected and measured the pH of various water sources, or any one of a thousand activities that involve students in studying and interacting with the real world around them, has conducted a project-based learning activity.

Ngeow Karen Yeok-Hwa (September 1998). Enhancing Student Thinking Through Collaborative Learning. ERIC Digest. Accessed 3/9/05: http://www.indiana.edu/~reading/ieo/digests/d130.html. Quoting from the article:

There are some principles that are common to any group learning approach:

  1. a group-learning task is designed based on shared learning goals and outcomes;
  2. small-group learning takes place in groups of between 3-5 students;
  3. cooperative behavior involves trust-building activities, joint planning, and an understanding of team support conduct;
  4. positive interdependence is developed through setting mutual goals; and
  5. individual accountability, role fulfillment, and task commitment are expected of students.

Norman, Donald. February 2001 interview of Donald Norman. Accessed 3/9/05: http://www.elearningpost.com/features/archives/002079.asp.

Donald Norman has made significant contributions to the field of designing software and other products. He has written a number of quite readable and interesting books. This interview includes a focus on learner-centered instruction or user-centered design, and on problem-based learning. Quoting from the interview:
elearningpost: In all your books, you have emphasized the need to put the user at the center of all design initiatives. User-centric design has been your mantra. Now, with e-learning, there is a similar need to put the learner at the center of all design initiatives. Going with your experience as the President of UNext Learning Systems, what are some of the issues one needs to consider in order to adopt a learner-centric approach?

Donald Norman: We have to start at several places. The traditional course is run by a professor, an instructor, who organizes the course material in some logical method and gives lecture materials and assigns readings. This is an approach that we can call either "teacher-centric", or maybe, "content-centric". And it fails to take into account the way people learn. The first step in learner-centric is to understand how learning takes place. Much modern research in cognitive science shows that people learn by doing. So it is very important that people learn not by reading a book, and not by listening to a lecture, but by doing tasks that can engage the mind.

The second point to understand is that when you read or listen to something, What do you learn from it? The answer: It depends on the goals that you have. In a traditional course, the students do not know why they are reading the material. They may be reading because the professor said "read this material". What we try to do in UNext is we give the students a problem to solve. Now when students read the material, they know the goal; they are trying to find the information that will solve their problem.

Paterson, Kathy (2005). Differentiated Learning: Language and Literacy Projects that Address Diverse Backgrounds and Cultures . 144 pp/paper. A Pembroke Title, Accessed 7/14/05: http://www.stenhouse.com/productcart/pc/
. At the time I accessed the site, the entire book was available online. Quoting from the Website:

Projects are a powerful and effective way to motivate students and organize learning. This practical book presents thirty projects organized around the major levels of thinking:

  • Knowledge and comprehension—from a visit from an elder and a life circle wall hanging to story theatre presentations;
  • Application—from a class mosaic and super-hero posters to marvelous masks of many colors;
  • Analysis—from mirror-image collages and "amazing compilation person" to cultural calendars;
  • Synthesis—from silent island building to photo-storybooks to spectacular school brochures.

PBL and Collaborative Learning. Accessed 3/9/05: http://www.2learn.ca/Projects/

Contains brief discussions of some of the better "classical" articles in the field.

PBL Design and Invention Center (n.d.). http://www.pblnet.org/. Accessed 3/9/05: Quoting from the Website:

This very helpful Web site offers information, guidance, links, and lesson plans for implementing Project-Based Learning in 3-12 classrooms. All curricula are standards aligned and integrated across subject areas.

Penuel, W. R. and Means, B. (1999). Observing Classroom Processes in Project-Based Learning Using Multimedia: A Tool for Evaluators. Accessed 3/9/05: http://www.ed.gov/rschstat/eval/tech/
Quoting from the paper:

Abstract: This paper discusses methods for observing changes in classroom processes in project-based classrooms using multimedia technology. The tool was used as part of a five-year evaluation of a local Technology Innovation Challenge Grant program called Challenge 2000: Multimedia Project. In the paper, we discuss the design of the observation tool and present findings about the differences in classroom processes between Multimedia Project classrooms and comparison classrooms. Project classrooms, we found, are more likely to be learner-centered and engage students in long-term, complex assignments.

There are seven components of the Project Based Learning Using Multimedia model. Projects are expected to:

  • Be anchored in core curriculum; multidisciplinary
  • Involve students in sustained effort over time
  • Involve student decision-making
  • Be collaborative
  • Have a clear real-world connection
  • Use systematic assessment: both along the way and end product
  • Take advantage of multimedia as a communication tool

PERT, CPM and GANTT (November 1997).. Accessed 3/9/052: http://studentweb.tulane.edu/~mtruill/dev-pert.html.

This Website provides a nice overview of three project-planning methodologies. It is taken from A Professional's Guide to Systems Analysis, Martin E. Modell, 2nd. Ed. McGraw Hill, 1996.

Problem-Based Learning Clearinghouse. Accessed 3/8/05: https://chico.nss.udel.edu/Pbl/. Quoting the Website:

Welcome to the PBL Clearinghouse, a collection of problems and articles to assist educators in using problem-based learning. The problems and articles are peer reviewed by PBL experts in the disciplinary content areas. Teaching notes and supplemental materials accompany each problem, providing insights and strategies that are innovative and classroom-tested. Access to the Clearinghouse collection is limited to educators who register via an online application, but is free and carries no obligation.

Comment from Moursund: Problem-Based Learning is closely related to learning based on case studies. If you are interested in case studies, take a look at: Case Studies in Science. Accessed 3/8/05: http://ublib.buffalo.edu/libraries/projects/

Problem-Based Learning Network. Illinois Science and Mathematics Academy. Accessed 3/8/05: http://www2.imsa.edu/programs/pbln/overview/. Quoting from the Website:

Problem-based learning (PBL) is an educational approach that organizes curriculum and instruction around carefully crafted ill-structured" problems. Students gather and apply knowledge from multiple disciplines in their quest for solutions. Guided by teachers acting as cognitive coaches, they develop critical thinking, problem solving, and collaborative skills as they identify problems, formulate hypotheses, conduct data searches, perform experiments, formulate solutions and determine the best "fit of solutions to the conditions of the problem. Problem-based learning enables students to embrace complexity, find relevance and joy in their learning, and enhance their capacity for creative and responsible real-world problem-solving.

Project-Based Instruction in Mathematics for the Liberal Arts (n.d.). Accessed 3/9/05: http://faculty.uscupstate.edu/mulmer/PBI_Index.shtml. Quoting from the Website:

The purpose of this web site is to provide projects and resources for instructors and students who wish to teach and learn college mathematics or post-algebra high school mathematics via project-based instruction. Check the site often for additions and improvements.

Project-Based Instruction in Mathematics for the Liberal Arts (PBI-MLA) was developed at the University of South Carolina Spartanburg. In six years, it developed a 30% higher success rate than traditional textbook-driven sections of College Mathematics.

During 1994 a group of faculty members at USCS began to develop and test an innovative pedagogy integrating technology and activity- or project-based instruction in mathematics for liberal arts majors. The group collected, modified and/or wrote items for a packet of activities designed to form the core of material that would be used to supplement and eventually replace the textbook in the College Mathematics course. Subsequently, M.B. Ulmer wrote a booklet to lend structure to the use of the activities, and the textbook was eliminated from use in many sections of the course. Under this pedagogy success rates have risen dramatically for students, and their subsequent performance in required statistics courses has also shown improvement.

PBL Multimedia Rubric (n.d.). Project-Based Learning with Multimedia :Multimedia Project Scoring Rubric: Scoring Guidelines. Accessed 3/9/05: http://pblmm.k12.ca.us/PBLGuide/MMrubric.htm.

A one-page table using a 5-point rubric for each of the three components: Multimedia, Collaboration, and Content of a project. This is based on the idea that one might want to assess a project on these three criteria.

Projects for Public Spaces (n.d.). Accessed 3/9/05: http://www.pps.org/tcb/about.htm. Quoting from the Website:

At Project for Public Spaces, we believe it's important to highlight accomplishments of young people. In our work around the U.S., we witness all too often how young people are shunned and treated almost like undesirables by the owners and managers of public spaces. On top of that, there seems to be continuous press coverage of negative activities undertaken by teens. This makes it even more important to tell stories of youth who are doing positive things to improve their communities. In addition, these examples of teens' success can provide inspiration to other youth who are struggling to make a difference, and trying to create public places that are comfortable for them and their peers - places where they have a sense of ownership and involvement.

Randi, Judi (2004). Teachers as self-regulated learners. Teachers College Record Volume 106 Number 9, 2004, p. 1825-1853. Retrieved 8/2/06: http://www.tcrecord.org/Content.asp?
. Quoting from the article:

In his classic study, Life in Classrooms, Jackson (1968) described students as workers whose motivation for staying on task comes from the teacher, as the student’s first boss. Jackson’s analogy of the teacher as boss characterizes the teacher as an authority figure, but research on self-regulation redefined the teacher’s role in encouraging students to persist at work, even when distractions and competing priorities threaten to divert students from purposeful learning tasks (Corno, 2001). Teachers who encourage self-regulated learning emphasize ‘‘autonomy and control by the individual who monitors, directs, and regulates actions toward goals of information acquisition, expanding expertise, and self-improvement’’ (Paris & Paris, 2001, p. 89). In essence, to promote self-regulation in students is to teach students to be their own ‘‘boss.’’

Since Jackson’s study, the classroom has increasingly been the focus of research, not only as the context for student learning but for teacher learning as well. Teachers have been encouraged to examine their own classroom instructional practices as a form of job-embedded staff development (Wilson & Berne, 1999). Contemporary teacher professional development views teachers as learners drawing on resources in their teaching environments to inform their work and professional growth (Little, 2003). This form of teacher professional learning requires teachers to take charge of their own learning (Renyi, 1996). If self-regulation assists students in taking charge of their own learning, then self-regulated learning strategies ought to be valuable for teachers as well.

Rubrics and Self-Assessment Project from Project Zero (n.d.). Accessed 3/9/05: http://www.pz.harvard.edu/Research/RubricSelf.htm. Quoting from the Website:

Scoring rubrics are among the most popular innovations in education (Goodrich, 1997a; Jensen, 1995; Ketter, 1997; Luft, 1997; Popham, 1997). However, little research on their design and their effectiveness has been undertaken. Moreover, few of the existing research and development efforts have focused on the ways in which rubrics can serve the purposes of learning and cognitive development as well as the demands of evaluation and accountability. The two studies that made up the Project Zero's research focused on the effect of instructional rubrics and rubric-referenced self-assessment on the development of 7th and 8th grade students' writing skills and their understandings of the qualities of good writing.


These studies draw on two areas of research: authentic assessment and self-regulated learning. Perspectives on authentic assessment provide a guiding definition of assessment as an educational tool that serves the purposes of learning as well as the purposes of evaluation (Gardner, 1991; Goodrich, 1997b; Wiggins, 1989a, 1989b; Wolf & Pistone, 1991). In addition, the literature on authentic assessment provides guidance on the characteristics of effective assessment (see Goodrich, 1996a, for a review). These characteristics influenced the design of the studies reviewed below, which:

  1. Articulated clear criteria for assessing writing,
  2. Asked students to assess their own work,
  3. Provided opportunities for improvement through revision, and
  4. Was sensitive to students' developmental stages, referring to appropriate grade level standards.

The literature on self-regulated learning and feedback suggests that learning improves when feedback reminds students of the need to monitor their learning and guides them in how to achieve learning objectives (Bangert-Drowns et al., 1991; Butler and Winne, 1995). The Rubrics and Self-Assessment Project is based on the hypothesis that students themselves can be the source of feedback, given the appropriate conditions and supports.

Savery, John R. (2006). Overview of problem-based learning: Definitions and distinctions. The Interdisciplinary Journal of Problem-based Learning. Retrieved 8/2/06: http://docs.lib.purdue.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article

This article is about problem-based learning, as distinguished from project-based learning. Quoting the abstract:

Problem-based learning (PBL) is an instructional approach that has been used successfully for over 30 years and continues to gain acceptance in multiple disciplines. It is an instructional (and curricular) learner-centered approach that empowers learners to conduct research, integrate theory and practice, and apply knowledge and skills to develop a viable solution to a defined problem. This overview presents a brief history, followed by a discussion of the similarities and differences between PBL and other experiential approaches to teaching, and identifies some of the challenges that lie ahead for PBL

The research on the effectiveness of problem-based learning seems to be stronger than for project-based learning. Even then, however, the research is only moderately strong. Quoting fro the article:

However, a recent report on a systematic review and meta-analysis on the effectiveness of PBL used in higher education programs for health professionals (Newman, 2003) stated that “existing overviews of the field do not provide high quality evidence with which to provide robust answers to questions about the effectiveness of PBL” (p. 5). Specifically this analysis of research studies attempted to compare PBL with traditional approaches to discover if PBL increased performance in adapting to and participating in change; dealing with problems and making reasoned decisions in unfamiliar situations; reasoning critically and creatively; adopting a more universal or holistic approach; practicing empathy, appreciating the other person’s point of view; collaborating productively in groups or teams; and identifying one’s own strengths and weaknesses and undertaking appropriate remediation (self-directed learning). A lack of well-designed studies posed a challenge to this research analysis, and an article on the same topic by Sanson-Fisher and Lynagh (2005) concluded that “Available evidence, although methodologically flawed, offers little support for the superiority of PBL over traditional curricula” (p. 260). This gap in the research on the short-term and long-term effectiveness of using a PBL approach with a range of learner populations definitely indicates a need for further study.

These results are consistent with what is being learned in the research on games in education. If you want students to learn specific things, then teach the specific things directly. Three of the references in http://darkwing.uoregon.edu/~moursund/Books/
speak directly to this issue. See Clarke, (2004-2005), (Conati & Klawe, 2000),Kirschner et al. (2006),

Stamford Problem-Based Learning Initiative (n.d.). Accessed 3/9/05: http://www.samford.edu/pbl/index.html. Quoting from the Website:

The Problem-Based Learning (PBL) Web site was established in 1998.

… The Center’s mission was to support the Samford community in enhancing student learning through the training, implementation and documentation of PBL and other methods of active, student-centered, collaborative, inquiry-based learning; and to share these practices with other educators. The site corresponds to Samford University’s efforts to be a learner-centered community that nurtures the intellectual, emotional, physical, social and spiritual development of students and teachers.

Stites, Regie (January, 1998). Evaluation of Project-Based Learning. Accessed 3/9/05: http://pblmm.k12.ca.us/PBLGuide/pblresch.htm.

This is a quite short article that summarizes some of the studies of PBL. The literature review suggests that PBL is effective. Of particular interest to the area of ICT-Assisted PBL is the following (quoted from the Website):
PBL is especially effective when supported by educational technology (Blumenfeld et al., 1991; Means & Olson, 1997; Coley, Cradler, & Engel, 1996). Evaluations of K-12 instructional have shown strong evidence of learning gains associated with PBL plus technology (Ryser, Beeler, McKenzie, 1995; Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt, 1992; Pellegrino et al., 1992). In one of the best documented programs combining PBL and technology, eighth graders in the Union City (New Jersey) Interactive Multimedia Education Trial scored approximately 10% higher than students from other urban and special needs districts on statewide assessments of reading, mathematics, and writing achievement (Education Development Center, 1994).

Telecollaboration Projects (n.d.). Accessed 3/9/05: http://teaparty.terc.edu/research/resources/tele-rsrc.html. Quoting from the Website:

In addition to the projects listed below, which will give you a good idea of the range of telecollaboration projects being done throughout the country, we have compiled a list of telecollaboration projects you can join now!

TERC (n.d.). Accessed 3/9/05: http://www.terc.edu/. Quoting from the Website:

Founded in 1965, TERC is a not-for-profit education research and development organization in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

TERC's mission is to improve mathematics, science, and technology teaching and learning. TERC works at the edges of current theory and practice to:

  • contribute to understanding of learning and teaching
  • foster professional development
  • develop applications of new technologies
  • create curricula and other products
  • support school reform

Comment from Dave Moursund: This is a very good resource. Many of their projects are designed so that students from around the country or around the world can be active participants.

Virginia Center for Digital History (n.d.). Accessed 3/9/05: http://www.vcdh.virginia.edu/.Quoting from the Website.

The Virginia Center for Digital History promotes the study of American history and culture, and the teaching of both subjects in schools. VCDH seeks to transform how American history is taught, learned, understood, and accessed. VCDH uses the new medium of the World Wide Web to serve schools, teachers, scholars, and an international general public.

VCDH projects include the award-winning Valley of the Shadow Project as well as new online digital history initiatives--including, Virtual Jamestown, Race and Place: An African-American Community in the Jim Crow South, The Ground Beneath Our Feet: Virginia's History Since the Civil War, the Correspondence of Dolley Madison, and the History of the University of Virginia

Virtual Schoolhouse (n.d.). Project-Based Learning. Accessed 3/9/05: http://virtualschoolhouse.visionlink.org/pbl.htm.

This Website contains good discussoin of the following PBL design principles:

  • Academic rigor.
  • Authenticity.
  • Applied learning.
  • Adult connections.
  • Active exploration.
  • Assessment practice.

WebQuest (n.d.). The WebQuest Page. Accessed 3/9/05: http://webquest.sdsu.edu/. See also WebQuest Resources. Accessed 3/9/05: http://wneo.org/WebQuests/WebquestResources.htm.

The creation of a WebQuest constitutes an excellent project. This Website contains detailed instructions for doing such a project.

WestEd RTEC (n.d.). Project-Based Learning and Teaching. Accessed 3/9/05: http://rtecexchange.edgateway.net/cs/
rtecp/view/rtec_ezine/4. Quoting from the Website:

WHEN TECHNOLOGY is integrated with project-based, real-world problem solving, students are engaged in the learning, teachers are energized, and parents are involved. These are but some of the findings from the Middle School Mathematics Through Applications Program (MMAP) directed by Shelley Goldman, Stanford University Associate Professor and a Project Director at WestEd.

The Mathematics project, deemed an exemplary and promising educational technology program by the U.S. Department of Education, uses software tools to engage 6th - 8th graders in real-world problem solving that requires them to learn mathematics and apply what they learn. Developed by Goldman from 1992-1998 as a National Science Foundation project, MMAP is a project- and design-based curriculum tied to standards.

Wiggins, Grant (1990). The Case for Authentic Assessment. Accessed 3/3/02: http://pareonline.net/getvn.asp?v=2&n=2. Quoting from the Website:

Assessment is authentic when we directly examine student performance on worthy intellectual tasks. Traditional assessment, by contract, relies on indirect or proxy 'items'--efficient, simplistic substitutes from which we think valid inferences can be made about the student's performance at those valued challenges.

Do we want to evaluate student problem-posing and problem-solving in mathematics? experimental research in science? speaking, listening, and facilitating a discussion? doing document-based historical inquiry? thoroughly revising a piece of imaginative writing until it "works" for the reader? Then let our assessment be built out of such exemplary intellectual challenges.

Further comparisons with traditional standardized tests will help to clarify what "authenticity" means when considering assessment design and use:

  • Authentic assessments require students to be effective performers with acquired knowledge. Traditional tests tend to reveal only whether the student can recognize, recall or "plug in" what was learned out of context. This may be as problematic as inferring driving or teaching ability from written tests alone. (Note, therefore, that the debate is not "either-or": there may well be virtue in an array of local and state assessment instruments as befits the purpose of the measurement.)
  • Authentic assessments present the student with the full array of tasks that mirror the priorities and challenges found in the best instructional activities: conducting research; writing, revising and discussing papers; providing an engaging oral analysis of a recent political event; collaborating with others on a debate, etc. Conventional tests are usually limited to paper-and-pencil, one- answer questions.
  • Authentic assessments attend to whether the student can craft polished, thorough and justifiable answers, performances or products. Conventional tests typically only ask the student to select or write correct responses--irrespective of reasons. (There is rarely an adequate opportunity to plan, revise and substantiate responses on typical tests, even when there are open-ended questions). As a result,
  • Authentic assessment achieves validity and reliability by emphasizing and standardizing the appropriate criteria for scoring such (varied) products; traditional testing standardizes objective "items" and, hence, the (one) right answer for each.
  • "Test validity" should depend in part upon whether the test simulates real-world "tests" of ability. Validity on most multiple-choice tests is determined merely by matching items to the curriculum content (or through sophisticated correlations with other test results).
  • Authentic tasks involve "ill-structured" challenges and roles that help students rehearse for the complex ambiguities of the "game" of adult and professional life. Traditional tests are more like drills, assessing static and too-often arbitrarily discrete or simplistic elements of those activities.

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