Project-Based Unit Development by Middle School Science Teachers: Investigations on Watershed Water Quality

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1 Scopus citations


This case study explored changes in seven in-service middle school science teachers’ understandings of project-based learning (PBL) environments after participating in a summer institute on PBL. Of particular interest was their participation in the institute as learners in a PBL unit exploring the effect of land use on water quality in the watershed. We investigated how well teachers were able to apply their understanding of PBL as they designed their own units on water quality in their watershed. Research questions focused the study on how participation in a summer teacher institute on PBL prepared middle school teachers to describe key features of project-based learning environments, and how well they were able to incorporate these features in PBL units. Data collection included a qualitative pre/post PBL survey, teachers’ watershed units, and field notes from the institute. Findings from the pre and post survey showed that teachers demonstrated a vague understanding of essential features of PBL environments pre institute and a detailed understanding of PBL post institute. Teachers’ units varied in the degrees to which PBL features were exhibited. Strengths of the units included driving questions and benchmark lessons. Shortcomings included few opportunities for student-directed investigation of sub-driving questions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number11
JournalEducation Sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2023

Bibliographical note

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  • collaboration
  • middle school teachers
  • professional development model
  • project-based learning
  • watershed ecology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)
  • Education
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Public Administration
  • Computer Science Applications


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