Degree Name

MA in International Education

First Advisor

Karen Blanchard


Project-Based Learning in a Distance-Learning High School Courses

Project-based learning (PBL) is a teaching methodology that focuses on student-led inquiry that answers a larger question or project completion. Curricula are scaffolded in such a way that a general theory or practice is introduced by the instructor, who demonstrates the necessary skills and presents relevant information for students to experience the topic first hand in a professional context. Students formulate their own questions related to the topic, or design a project that explores the topic in a manner of their choosing. Students then complete their project or solve the larger problem with support, guidance, and feedback from the instructor. PBL often incorporates peer collaboration, and assessment usually involves peer review and presentation of the final project or artifact to a larger community audience.

To examine how PBL courses would be most effective in a distance-learning environment, like the one which Oak Meadow School uses for its accredited high school program, I used phenomenology to explore students' learning preferences, focusing on a central question: How do Oak Meadow high school students view PBL?

The method of inquiry employed a combination of an anonymous survey and email interviews. Of the 40 students invited to take the survey, twelve responded. These survey responses were then combined with Kolb's learning cycle, in order to determine how best to proceed in designing PBL courses for Oak Meadow's distance-learning high school, in all subject areas. While there are challenges in executing PBL in an asynchronous global setting, OM students are amenable to peer collaboration, answering larger questions or solving real-world problems, and believe that meaningful education involves learning new skills and exploring new perspectives and ideas that can apply to future experiences.


Curriculum and Instruction | Online and Distance Education | Secondary Education