Date of Award

Spring 2022

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Educational Studies

First Advisor

Leigh K. D’Amico


This dissertation focuses on implementing problem-based learning as an instructional intervention in a middle school civics classroom. This action research study responds to the observations of the teacher-researcher who noticed that her students were not make meaningful connections to the practice of citizenship. The problem of practice was developed when the teacher-researcher realized that the students were not engaged in learning with the traditional lecture-style, rote memorization instruction; she needed an intervention that was active, collaborative, and meaningful. To increase the connection to middle school learners, the intervention should emphasize problem solving skills and build empathy for others through a social equity lens. This mixed methods study is informed by the following research questions: First, what are the effects of using problem-based learning as an instructional method in a middle school civics classroom? Second, how does using problem-based learning to solve authentic, citizenship scenarios help middle school students make connections to their community? The teacher-research adopted a phenomenological approach as she seeks to incorporate the students’ feelings throughout the data collection process. The theoretical foundation for this study included problem-based learning, constructivism, social studies pedagogy, middle school pedagogy, and integrated learning.


© 2022, Rebekah Meri Rowland