A case study analysis of problem-based learning within a fabrication laboratory in a southwestern secondary charter school
The purpose of this study was to explore how teachers at a southwestern secondary private charter school utilize the on-campus fabrication lab to promote the implementation of problem-based learning (PBL). Guided by the theory of constructivism, I qualitatively explored the processes teachers engage in when implementing a PBL lesson using a multi-case study design. Five teachers and two fabrication lab directors from various content areas were interviewed and observed. Five overall themes emerged from the data: 1) the differing emphasis on PBL framework components; 2) conflicts, limitations, and constraints perceived with PBL; 3) teachers use of PBL for cognitive development; 4) the role of the environment in PBL; and 5) the role of reflection in the PBL framework. Research recommendations include further exploration into the factors that contribute to a positive environment conducive to PBL, in-depth investigation into the role of each step in the PBL framework, and additional observation periods to elicit the impacts of PBL over time. Recommendations for practice include purposeful teacher reflection, scaffolded planning, strengthening connections between PBL and real-world applications, and strategies for increased student support and encouragement in the classroom.