Project Based Learning, and Students' Inability to Provide Meaningful Research

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Currently I have taught in both the high school and middle school settings. One of the key things that I have noticed between both of these populations is that their ability to do research and answer inquiry style questioning is nonexistent. When I returned to school in 2013 to work on my teaching certification, the professors preached inquiry style teaching. School systems are moving towards DOK questioning. (Depth of Knowledge) DOK is broken into different levels ranging from one to four. Level one questions are recall questions, level two, skill / concept, three, strategic thinking, and four extended thinking, As a teacher, we need to focus primarily on the DOK level three and four questions. Students struggle with these types of questions.

Why are we as teachers not allowed to practice what we learn within the college system? There is a huge disconnect between the world of academia and political intervention within the educational system. The high school I currently teach at, spends the entire month doing testing. Tests range from milestones, final exams, SAT, ACT, benchmarks, etc, One of the most frequent questions that I receive, is if the test is multiple choice? The second would be, is there a word bank. The students are only retaining the information for short periods of time and any chance of it staying within the long term memory is zero to nil.

Project based learning is not something of the future. Project based learning is currently being taught to education students within the colleges, but the consistent political bureaucracy, holds up the education system. Why do doctors get involved in education, despite their lack of background? An issue with teaching project based currently is the lack of student ability to conduct proper research for the project. I believe that we should start teaching research methods as young as elementary level. Like I sated previously above, just because students have technology, does not mean they can properly use it. I know we can never go back to the days of encyclopedias, but there was something there when having to physically dig for information through actual printed materials. I remember the days of physical encyclopedias, then to CD-ROM, and then the internet. Students are not being taught, and they are getting very lazy. In a society of instant gratification, actually having to search is becoming taboo.

Currently I have my students doing research on particular human body systems. They were given an instruction sheet with rubric, outlining what is expected. When doing internet based research I noticed that the students will not look further than the first article, nor will the actually click and read what the article is about. The students expect everything to be given in that short two to three sentence summary on the search page. One of the largest examples I can give you is one of my groups was doing research on the Endocrine System. They needed to find the systems cellular makeup. The students could not figure out that the endocrine system is made up of different glands, and that each gland provided a specific cellular makeup. It is frustrating when trying to teach lessons that need research, because the students have no previous experience. I feel that we are in a downward spiral in which society has become complacent in terms of education. Will we recover?

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