Teachers’ perspectives on project-based learning in mathematics and science

Elina Viro 1 * , Daranee Lehtonen 2, Jorma Joutsenlahti 2, Ville Tahvanainen 3
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1 Faculty of Information Technology and Communication Sciences, Tampere University, Tampere, Finland
2 Faculty of Education and Culture, Tampere University, Tampere, Finland
3 Philosophical Faculty, University of Eastern Finland, Joensuu, Finland
* Corresponding Author
EUR J SCI MATH ED, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp. 12-31. https://doi.org/10.30935/scimath/9544
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ABSTRACT

In order to thrive in today's uncertain environment, there is a need to master 21st century skills as well as knowledge of key subjects. Project-based learning (PBL) has been recommended as an important instructional strategy to prepare students for their future work and life. As teachers play an important role in classroom instructional practice, understanding their perspectives on PBL is essential in order to provide them with support for its successful implementation. We investigated how Finnish pre- and in-service class teachers and mathematics and science teachers (N = 257) view PBL in terms of (1) its objectives, (2) its characteristics, (3) the suitable application and situation regarding its implementation, and (4) support for and barriers to its implementation. We collected data from two questionnaire surveys, project plans, and reports and then analysed them quantitatively. We found that a majority of the teachers considered the development of students’ knowledge and understanding of mathematics and science, and 21st century skills as important objectives of PBL in mathematics and science education. The development of teamwork skills and the connection between theory and practice were regarded as key PBL characteristics. Moreover, PBL was perceived as suitable for both revising and learning new content. Nevertheless, the relative inadequacy of resources and support for PBL implementation was reported. Of particular necessity were ready-made project instructions, ideas, tips, and examples; advice from experienced teachers; training and guidance on basic PBL issues; and more time allocation. We discuss implications for teachers’ professional development towards PBL.

CITATION

Viro, E., Lehtonen, D., Joutsenlahti, J., & Tahvanainen, V. (2020). Teachers’ perspectives on project-based learning in mathematics and science. European Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 8(1), 12-31. https://doi.org/10.30935/scimath/9544

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