Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Class 7: 2/9- Barron et al (1995)/Jasper/"Big P-little p"

We began class today with a discussion of Barron et al (1998). In this paper, four critical aspects of project-based instruction are identified:

-Learning appropriate goals

-Scaffolds for learning

-Frequent feedback and revision

-Social structures that support participatory practices

Students had some questions about the distinction between the problem-based learning identified by Barron as a scaffolding tool and project-based learning. Some of the differences identified were the scale, purpose, and timing.

Dr. Petrosino asked the students to list some of the characteristics that are generally associated with the common usage of the word “project.” Students listed: build something, beginning middle end, using hands, extended time period, takes creativity, research. He contrasted these to the attributes that Barron et al provide, and introduced students to the terms “little p project” and “Big P Project.”

Little p projects are activities that lack the proper pedagogy and scaffolding to facilitate real learning, but may look on face as though they are projects. Big P Projects are founded in solid pedagogy and are more effective for student learning. Dr. Petrosino noted that because PBI is becoming fashionable in education, there is a lot of little p going on in schools.

For the rest of class, students were put in groups of three to work on the “Rescue at Boone’s Meadow” Jasper problem. This problem begins with a video that introduces a scenario in which students must optimize travel time to a location and back given the constraints that are presented throughout the video.

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