A case study of project-based learning in an elementary school setting

Lauren Nicole D'Ambra, University of Rhode Island


Project-based learning (PBL), a form of learning that has its roots in medical schools, has been frequently studied at the secondary and undergraduate/graduate levels. Few studies of this learning approach have been conducted at the elementary level. This study addressed the question of what project-based learning looks like and how it is implemented in the elementary years, as it exists within the context of a whole school, specifically a charter school. A qualitative case study design was used for the study. A purposeful sample of K through 6 elementary staff was interviewed over a period of 8 months. Analysis of the data showed that teacher mastery of content; scaffolding to developmental levels; and flexibility in planning were key elements in implementing and managing the project process. A defined set of learning lenses and an agreed upon philosophy at the whole-school level also emerged as significant factors in implementing the PBL approach. The amount of time needed to invest in this learning approach, along with depth of content knowledge, arose as primary challenges.^

Subject Area

Education, Evaluation|Education, Elementary|Education, Curriculum and Instruction

Recommended Citation

Lauren Nicole D'Ambra, "A case study of project-based learning in an elementary school setting" (2014). Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access). Paper AAI1570466.