Project-Based Learning Leads to Gains in Science and Other Subjects in Middle School and Benefits All Learners
Deutscher, R.R., Holthuis, N.C., Maldonado, S.I., Pecheone, R.L., Schultz, S.E., Wei, R.C., & Lucas Education Research. (2021). Project-Based Learning Leads to Gains in Science and Other Subjects in Middle School and Benefits All Learners. Lucas Education Research.
This research brief highlights the findings of a study looking at the impact of a project-based approach to science instruction in middle school. Stanford University experts and middle school teachers developed the project-based program, Learning Through Performance (LTP). Researchers found that the approach boosted student achievement in science by 11 percentage points and increased student engagement. The students using the LTP curriculum also outperformed their peers on state assessments in mathematics (from 12-18 percentage points in years one and two, respectively) and English language arts (from 8-10 percentage points in years one and two, respectively), indicating they grew in those subject areas as well. And English language learners outperformed their peers on a test used to measure language proficiency, by 8 percentage points in the first year and 28 percentage points for students whose teachers who were in their second year of teaching the LTP curriculum.
Teaching practices shifted too. The study found LTP teachers improved at facilitating groupwork, increased their use of activities that involved real-world, hands-on application of science, increased their use of language-rich assignments and discussion strategies, and grew in their use of performance assessments.