Students in project-based learning (PBL) classrooms across the United States significantly outperform students in typical classrooms, according to findings in research released by Lucas Educational Research, a division of the George Lucas Education Foundation (GLEF) with researchers from five major universities. The findings confirm that using a pedagogic model like, “Knowledge in Action” (KIA) which was created by Walter Parker, professor emeritus at the UW College of Education, and his colleagues, Professors John Bransford, Sheila Valencia, and Susan Nolen is an effective way to improve student performance on Advancement Placement test results.

The KIA approach centers on a rigorous form of project-based learning where projects are weeks-long simulations. GLEF used the year-long curricula developed by Parker and team to compare and assess student performance. The first study ever reported on project-based learning and Advancement Placement results, found that students taught with a PBL approach outperformed peers on exams by eight percentage points in one year of a randomized controlled trial, and were more likely to earn a passing score of 3 or above with the chance to receive college credit. In year two, PBL students outperformed peers by ten percentage points.

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