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Abstract

This study examined how a group of ten middle school teachers implemented a technology enriched problem-based learning (PBL) environment. The goal was to understand their motivation, document their implementation techniques, and identify factors that teachers considered important in using technology-based PBL tools in their teaching. The analysis identified four factors that provided the impetus for teachers to consider the adoption of technology-based PBL instruction. These factors are (1) the PBL program addresses the teachers’ curricular needs and implementing it has campus administrative and technical support, (2) the method is aligned with teachers’ pedagogical beliefs, (3) the PBL program offers a new way of teaching and promotes the development of higher-order thinking skills, and (4) the PBL program challenges students in a captivating manner and supports the learning needs of all students. Teachers’ implementation techniques with over 1,000 sixth graders were documented in detail with regard to: 1) the teacher’s roles, 2) the student’s role, and 3) the classroom interactions during the implementation of the PBL program. In addition, a detailed description of contrasting narratives of two pairs of teachers is provided, illustrating the range of implementation techniques that can occur using the same PBL program to allow for individualized instruction to meet different students’ needs. The goal of providing detailed implementation practices is to address the lack of “how to” in PBL implementation in K-12 classrooms as indicated in the literature and offer insights and ideas to those interested in adopting and implementing PBL. Findings are discussed within the theoretical framework and implications are provided.

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