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All Hands on Deck

February 20, 2009

Hands on learning is not a new concept, in fact, it is older than the current Horace Mann developed industrial model America (and much of the world) uses today.  However, it feels like its value is being lost as we pursue “high test scores” and the working of the system for college admission.

A recent study at Purdue University reminds us about learning. Researchers conducted testing with 8th grade students related to the human impact on water and water quality.  Half of the class was taught with traditional methods and the other half used the “project-based learning” model.  One of the professors involved in the study noted, “in every area we tested, the students involved in a hands-on project learned more and demonstrated a deeper understanding of the issues than the traditional group.”

This supports much of what a group of staff and I noticed on a recent tour of the Google offices.  The spaces include flexible environments that encourage and foster collaboration on projects with shared learning by the groups.

For me, the implications for Saline are very real.  We have honored the current pressure to prepare our students effectively for the MEAP and ACT, as these are the measures we are “graded on” by residents and the greater society in general.  Education has in large part used traditional methods.  I for one am ready to explore other – perhaps better – methods of preparing our students for not only the current measures but also for the workplace they will be moving into.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 20, 2009 10:47 pm

    I have been searching for some objective evidence of the strength of PBL with middle school and high school students, so it’s great to hear about the results of the Purdue study. Can you provide a link to info about this study or some information on who I can contact about the results?

  2. Graden permalink
    February 20, 2009 10:53 pm

    Here is the link to the article and the contacts are at the bottom of the piece.

    Good Luck!

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