Finding: "Multiple K-12 research studies documents that students engaged in PBL score high on both traditional and performance-based assessments compares to similar students learning the same material using traditional instructional methods" (Larmer, Mergendoller, & Boss, 2015).
- Students learning through PBL retain content longer and have a deeper understanding of what they are learning. (Penuel & Means, 2000; Stepien, Gallagher & Workman, 1993).
- In specific content areas, PBL has been shown to be more effective than traditional methods for teaching math, economics, language, science, and other disciplines. (Beckett & Miller, 2006; Boaler, 2002; Finkelstein et al., 2010; Greier et al., 2008; Mergendoller, Maxwell, & Bellisimo, 2006).
- One well-known study compare PBL to traditional mathematics instruction using the Adventures of Jasper Woodbury. The results of this research revealed that middle school students using the PBL approach developed greater skills in solving math word problems than students taught in a traditional classroom (Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt, 1998).
- Two middle school studies blend PBL and computer technology where students demonstrated learning more science content than students in traditional, didactic classrooms (Chang, 2001; Liu, Hsieh, Chos, & Schallert, 2006).
- Four second grade classrooms were engaged in a PBL study to increase the learning of low SES students. The study confirmed that PBL can increase achievement with a disadvantaged population (Halvorsen et al., 2014.
- In 2008, the Knowledge in Action Project was started through a collaboration with a research team from the University of Washington’s College of Education and the Bellevue School District in Washington. The project began with the redesign of Advanced Placement (AP) courses because they have been considered the gold standard for rigorous courses in American high schools. The research project sought to answer two questions:
- Is it possible for students to get the same or better scores on an AP test with a well-designed project-based learning course when compared with students of similar backgrounds and prior academic performance who are taking a traditionally taught course?
- Is it possible for the students taking the PBL course to demonstrate deeper conceptual understanding of the subject matter as measured by an assessment of deeper learning when compared with students experiencing the traditionally taught course?
- On high-stakes tests, PBL students perform as well or better than traditionally taught students. (Parker et al., 2011).