Author

Diane Lawson

Date of Award

Spring 2020

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Department

Educational Studies

First Advisor

Michael Grant

Abstract

The purpose of this action research was to evaluate the integration of technology with project-based learning to determine its effect on critical thinking, science content knowledge, and motivation for science learning for fourth grade students. There is increased motivation for student-centered learning environments that engage students in critical thinking, motivating students to learn in active ways that relate to the real-world applications. Project-based learning is based in constructivist learning theory, where students construct knowledge through active learning strategies. This research explored three questions related to increasing science content knowledge, critical thinking skills and motivation to learn science content through the implementation of technology integrated project-based learning. The first question looks at how technology integrated project-based learning affects the critical thinking skills of fourth grade students (n = 25). The second question looks at how fourth grade students’ life science content knowledge changes while integrating technology in a project-based learning unit. Finally, the last question addresses how integrating technology in project-based learning effect motivation to learn science content in fourth grade students.

Quantitative data analysis showed significant growth in student’s science content knowledge. Survey results were not significantly higher for intrinsic or extrinsic motivation. Technology integrated project-based learning had a positive impact on critical thinking skills. Students used critical thinking skills to evaluate information, plan for next steps in the process of learning, determine if information was missing from their body of knowledge, and search for missing information to prepare a complete picture of their animal’s life. Having an authentic audience gave students a purpose for their learning. Collaboration offered students a purpose for their learning, helping to focus them on the important information needed to complete their tasks. This research has implications for technology integration within the project-based learning classroom and for growing 21st century skills. Project learning environment increased interaction between science content and critical thinking skills deepening student understandings. Giving students a choice and voice in the learning process motivated them because they were personally invested. Technology allows students to collaborate in new and different ways, including sharing knowledge and co-creating artifacts.

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