Kim Trefz

7074 Theories of Models of Instructional Design

September 7th, 2014

Assignment: Model Resource and Video (link to the actual document)


Project Based Learning (PBL) is a teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to a complex question, problem, or challenge. PBL is a combination of cognitive and social

constructivist theories, as developed by Piaget and Vygotsky, in that it develops student autonomy, it allows the use of raw materials, the learning situation is authentic, it builds on prior knowledge, promotes collaboration and helps to develop inquiry.

Problem based learning (PBL) is a more specific model of instruction that is a  

The goals of PBL are to help the students in the following ways:

The role of the instructor is to be a guide in the learning process, offering support and encouragement as the learners are stretched in their thinking.

When using the PBL model of instruction, educators must consider the standards to be covered at grade level, relevance and purpose to the lives of the students as they take an active role in their learning, and interest-based where the students can make choices of focus that most interests them. Planning begins with the end in mind of what the learning outcome will be.

The conceptual framework of how the content relates to the lives of the student promotes inquiry and allows the students establish relevance and purpose in what they are learning. Inquiry then happens with the learner’s connection to the content in which they are exploring.

The guiding question that serves as the focal point of the entire project can be broad or specific; it can be written by the student or the teacher depending on the goal.  This is to develop inquiry and create divergent thinking where the students can generate many different ideas about a topic. The learner brainstorms the topic and formulates open-ended researchable questions that can lead to further questions which ultimately develops the inquiry process.

Collaborative teams are formed according to interest because that creates a learning environment where each student will likely be more engaged as they take ownership and responsibility of their learning.

The problem-solving research process begins whether it’s problem, design, or inquiry based.  During this stage of the process, new questions are formulated and explored; sometimes it’s necessary to take a new direction after beginning researching due to new interests, ideas, or an outcome that will not work for the solution; the team may try something different or take a new approach because what was being done wasn’t working as they may experience failure or difficulty moving forward.  Ongoing reflection the learning solidifies understanding.  Finally, the team weighs the pros and cons and makes a final decision on the outcome and determines if the hypothesis was accurate. The students then design and create their own model; this includes a design or redesign of a prototype or a technology presentation that shares research and discoveries.  

The learner finally presents their findings to an audience beyond their classroom for more of a global connection.


At the end of the nineteenth century, the Industrial Revolution impacted the school reform movement in that it pushed for standardized education to prepare the students for the workforce (Tyke, 1978, pg 128). A counter movement lead by progressives such as Francis Parker and John Dewey who believed that education should take a child-centered approach using a project method.  In 1892, William Heard Kilpatrick (1918) expanded on Dewey’s theories but framed the “project method” as a “A wholehearted purposeful activity in a social environment” (1918, p.2).  John Stevenson (1922), a teacher and philosopher, narrowed the Project Method as follows: reasoning vs. memory of information, conduct vs. information for its own sake, natural setting for learning vs. artificial setting for learning and, the priority of the problem vs. the priority of the principles.

The Project Method led others to discover how it could serve as a platform for inquiry based learning, problem-based learning, and design challenges. Problem-based learning (PBL) was first developed at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada by Howard Barrows and his colleagues in the 1960s. His tutorial process enabled the medical curriculum to shift from a faculty-centered approach to a student-centered, interdisciplinary process. Others such as Harvard Medical School used a variation of Barrow’s PBL approach within instruction, discussion, and experiential sessions. According to Schmidt (1983), PBL enables students to activate prior knowledge, apply real-world learning experiences for transfer of knowledge, and reinforce the knowledge through independent and small group work as opposed to receiving traditional methods of teaching.

There are many works published in the last few decades that promote Project Based Learning (PBL) which encompasses 21st century skills.  In the early 1990s, The U.S. Department of Labor Secretary's Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills published a report about the changing skills young people need to succeed in the workplace. In 1999, WestEd published, Learning, Technology, and Education Reform in the Knowledge Age, explored the "new learning landscape" of the 21st century. A huge education reform was once again sparked and Project based learning was at the center the lifelong learning. PBL and the use of technology enable students, teachers, and administrators to reach out beyond the school building, students become engaged builders of a new knowledge base and become active, lifelong learners, and PBL teaches children to take control of their learning, the first step as lifelong learners.

Today, non profit organizations such as Buck Institute for Education and George Lucas Educational Foundation have been influenced by John Dewey and other theorist over the last twenty-five years. Both of these organizations offer teachers professional development on how to design, assess, and manage projects that fall under the project-based learning instructional model. The BIE ( ( suggests, “Research in neuroscience and psychology has extended cognitive and behavioral models of learning — which support traditional direct instruction — to show that knowledge, thinking, doing, and the contexts for learning are inextricably tied.”

Key Persons:

Francis Parker and John Dewey were psychologists who impacted education reform believed that education should take a child-centered approach using a project method.

John Stevenson (1922), a teacher and philosopher, narrowed the Project Method as he refined its use in the classroom.

In the 1960s, Howard Barrows and his colleagues at McMaster University in Hamilton,  discovered the Problem-Based Learning model which was developed in order to invigorate the learners, enable them to seeing the relevance in their learning in relation to their roles, establish a level of motivation in their learning, and to be able to demonstrate a positive attitude toward their professional roles.

The Autodesk Foundation founded by Joe Oakey brought Project-based learning to the attention of educators from the 1990s to 2000. Oakey’s foundation supported schools and practitioners through the Tinkertech network.

Bob Pearlman took over the Autodesk Foundation after the retirement of Joe Oakey with a team of people who provided support as a key leader in the design, development, and implementation of 21st Century schools.

Suzie Boss, a current key figure in PBL, is a journalist and is a faculty member of Buck Institute for Higher Learning (BIE). She has focused on introducing project-based learning strategies to out-of-school-time programs and co-authored Reinventing Project-Based Learning: Your Field Guide to Real-World Projects in the Digital Age.

Buck Institute for Education (BIE) is a nonprofit organization that provides high-quality Project-Based Learning instructional practices and products and provides highly effective services to teachers, schools, and districts.

George Lucas Educational Foundation is a nonprofit organization that has a vision where all are empowered to change education for the better. They provide rigorous project-based learning, social-emotional learning, and access to new technology.


Instructional design models are systematic methods that are used by designers to solve a problem.  They allow the designer to visualize, plan, and organize instruction into manageable parts.  Behaviorist, cognitivist, and constructivist theories are a basis in which influences the models that are chosen to develop instruction.

Project based learning (PBL) is an instructional model that organizes learning around projects that have a authentic guiding question that promotes inquiry, design challenges, or complex tasks.  There are many problem-based learning models two of which are versions that have been implemented in the classroom, problem-stimulated PBL and Student Centered PBL.  The problem-stimulated PBL is the case where students decide how to appropriately use the new information and knowledge in order to solve the problem at hand (Schneider, 2005).  This experience develops autonomous learners since the role of the teacher is a guide through the process. Students start by defining the purpose of creating the end-product, identifying their audience, researching the topic, designing the product, completing the project management, solving the problems that arise and finishing the product followed by a self-evaluation and reflection. So, the focus and “driving force: is the end-product, but the the skills acquired during it’s production is what leads the learner to a successful outcome (Schneider, 2005).

Problem-based learning is different than project-based learning because it is closely related to the inquiry model.  Students start with a given problem, brainstorm and devise a plan for gathering information, pose new questions and summarize their research by presenting their conclusions. In this case, the “driving force” is the problem given and the success is the solution of it. In that sense, project-based learning is a broader category than the problem-based one and doesn’t always have a problem or promote inquiry.

The constructivist approach of PBL differs from Robert Gagne who shared his systematic behaviorist approach that focuses on student attention, objective and purpose, input of the concepts to be learned, teacher demonstration of the skill, guided practice, assessment, independent practice, and closure. (Jobrack, 2009).  It is a model that doesn’t really promote innovation or student spontaneity.  These limitations only focus on observable behaviors which makes it difficult to study the essence of learning which includes thinking and understanding. Most of the prescriptive design models such as A.S.S.U.R.E, A.D.D.I.E, and Dick and Carey are similar to PBL in that they each have instructional goals and specific needs that are established for solving a problem; With the PBL model the learners, instead of the teacher, work in teams to follow a problem-solving process in search of a solution and instead of a summative test at the end to demonstrate understanding, a presentation reveals what is learned and evidence is provided to support findings.

The cognitivist theory was developed in response to the behaviorist theory in that learners need to be active participants in the learning process where the focus lies accessing prior knowledge. The roots of this theory were developed by Dewey and Piaget (Jobrack, 2009). It supports that prior knowledge is a necessary part of learning and that the mind organizes the information learned like a computer. An example is the Self-Regulated Strategy Development Model that focuses on learning to think as the learner develops and activates background knowledge, discusses the strategy for active involvement, demonstrates how to learn, memorizes strategies, scaffolds for transfer of knowledge, and demonstrates an understanding performance. The downside to this model is that it doesn’t allow learners to build knowledge and understanding as the constructivist models of PBL do through experience.  

Even though the constructivist PBL models vary, Jobrack( 2009) states how they follow a basic teaching model that is known as the Original 5E Instructional Model where each stage promotes student construction of knowledge:  engagement where prior knowledge is accessed to develop inquiry; exploration that promotes a conceptual framework; explanation which allows the demonstration of understanding, process, and behaviors; elaboration that provides a deeper understanding of the content and application of it; and elaboration where the students self-assess and demonstrate understanding of their findings.  Criticisms indicate that the foundation of knowledge is compromised, but aspects of behaviorists and cognitivists theories are seen embedded within the instructional model.


Bender, W. (2012). Project-based learning: differentiating instruction for the 21st century  

     corwin, A SAGE publications company.    Retrieved on September 5, 2014

Instructional strategies are provided as well as assessment methods;  instructional methods on how to design projects for all grade levels, the integration of technology in the classroom, support of deep cognitive learning, building of social learning networks and differentiating instruction are all part of the findings.


Ching, Yu-Hui; Hsu, Yu-Chang (2013). Peer feedback to facilitate project-based learning in

     an online environment. International review of research in open and distance learning,

     v14 n5 p258-276. Retreived on September 6, 2014

This article provides findings regarding peer feedback that was implemented in an online learning environment to support project-based learning. The importance of this article focuses on discussion of how students provided support of peers’ work as well as encouragement as the inquiry process challenged their thinking.

Geyer, C; Geisler, S. (2012). A project-based learning setting to human-computer

     interaction for teenagers. Hochschule ruhr west, university of applied sciences,

     tannenstr. 43, Bottrop, Germ.    Retrieved on September 9, 2014.

A teenage program was developed to provide insights into a project-based learning environment with professional tools. Within the last 18 month this project was successfully conducted several times with various age groups.

Karaçalli, S.; Korur, F. (2014). The Effects of Project-Based Learning on Students' Academic

     Achievement, Attitude, and Retention of Knowledge: The Subject of "Electricity in Our

     Lives.” School Science and Mathematics, v114 n5 p224-235 May 2014. Retrieved on

     September 9, 2014.

The findings indicate that the students learn to construct their own learning and to evaluate changes in their own behavior through the application of the project based learning method which results in higher academic achievement and knowledge retention than traditional methods.

Koh, J.; Herring, S..; Hew, Khe Foon (2010). Internet and higher education, v13 n4 p284-291.

     Retrieved on September 3, 2014.

This study provided an analysis of the relationship between students' knowledge construction during asynchronous online discussions when involved with the instructional model of project-based learning. Graduate students' online postings in a course that comprised both project-based and non-project learning activities were coded and counted for knowledge construction, teaching, and social interaction moves using computer-mediated discourse analysis.

Lee, Hye-Jung; Lim, Cheolil (2012). Peer evaluation in blended team project-based

     learning: what do students find important? Educational technology & society, v15 n4

     p214-224 2012. Retrieved on September 3, 2014.

This article provides an evaluation of peers in team project-based learning situations. A message analysis framework provides results that indicate that students find social contributions, such as organizing or coordinating managerial abilities, more important than cognitive contributions when they evaluate peers.

Nation, M. L. (2008). Project-based learning for sustainable development. Journal of

     geography, v107 n3 p102-111. Retrieved on September 5, 2014.

Project based learning is a method of learning where students apply skills, technologies, and learning to solve real world problems.  This study shares the difficulties of interdisciplinary work as well as students in authentic research.  

Seet, L.; Quek, C. (2010). Evaluating students' perceptions and attitudes toward

     computer-mediated project-based learning environment: A case study. Learning

     environments research, v13 n2 p173-185. Retrieved on September 9, 2014.

Sixty-eight secondary school students' were investigated regarding their perspective of a project-based learning environment; students experienced classroom setting and an e-learning environment by using a computer. Results revealed that all environment dimensions were significantly and positively related to the students' attitudes towards PW.

Web Resources:

Edutopia (2014). 2014 The George Lucas Educational Foundation. Retrieved on September

     9, 2014.

provides an indepth discussion of Problem-Based Learning as well as videos to offer visuals of PBL in action; there is also a section that provides the latest published articles on the topic.

Edutech Wiki (March, 2014).  Retrieved on September 9, 2014.

This is a great site for those who are just beginning with Problem-Based Learning as it provides an introduction, models and roles in PBL, as well as discussion about the application of PBL and links for reference.

BIE (2014). Buck Institute for Education. Retrieved on September 3, 2014.

Buck Institute for Education provides the most Project-Based Learning resources available than any other site that ranges from a review on research, online discussion, and online interaction in many forms.

Problem-Based Learning Guide (2014). PBL guide: a resource for instructors and program coordinators. Retrieved on September 13, 2014

This guide provides a very thorough resource from an overview to a project design and delivery.  

TeachThought (2013). 11 steps of effective project based learning in a blended classroom.

     Retrieved on September 9, 2014.


This website provides eleven steps of effective Problem-Based Learning in a blended learning environment, and shares elaborations through the process.

Reinventing Project-Based Learning (2014). Plan your pbl conceptual framework.

     Retrieved on September 5, 2014.

Tracy Watanabe shares Problem-Based Learning in a step process with links that provide math and English common core standards with many links for global collaborative opportunities.

Study Guides and Strategies (2011). Retrieved on September 9, 2014.

This website provides an extensive description of the PBL process as well as links to study guides to help with the process during implementation in the classroom.

Teacher Tap (2014). Project, problem, and inquiry based learning. Retrieved on September 5,


This website provides an extensive amount of resources that are categorized according to various PBL approaches.

References: ( 2014). Sharing best practices and strategies for school reform and  


Buck Institute for Education (2014).

Jobrack, B. (2009). The 5E instructional model: engage, explore, explain, evaluate, extend.

     STEM: science, technology, engineering, math.                

Kilpatrick, W.H. (1918 Sept.). “The Project Method,” Teachers’ College Record 19 (n.p.).

Peterson, B. Uncovering the Progressive Past: The Origins of Project Based Learning.

     Unboxed: a journal of adult learning in schools.  Issue 8 spring 2012.


Schmidt, H. G. (1993). "Foundations of problem-based learning: Some explanatory notes".

     Medical Education 27 (5): 422–32.

Schneider Daniel & Paraskevi Synteta (2005). Conception and implementation of rich

     pedagogical scenarios through collaborative portal sites, in Senteni, A.

Stevenson, J. (1922). The Project Method of Teaching. New York: Maxmillian Co.

Tyack, D. (1974) The One Best System: A history of american urban education. Cambridge:

    Harvard U P.