The Effect of Project-Based Learning on Students' Executive Functions

Helen Virginia Beard, Tennessee State University


Project-Based Learning (PBL) is considered a student-centered and an inquiry-based pedagogical approach that assists students in developing deeper content knowledge via their real-world community context. Utilizing project work within various school districts, the teachers act as facilitators, guiding students, as well as providing opportunities for learning. The practice of PBL in the classroom fosters engaging opportunities for students to discover, promote, and implement their appropriate executive functions (EF) skillset learning that assists them in not only becoming academically and personally successful but globally competitive outside the classroom. Throughout this research, there are various theories, thoughts, challenges, and most essentially, quantifiable results that position the students in potentially gaining useful reflective practices in their PBL learning engagement, understanding and ownership, while displaying their EF domain skills, which are the emergence of the interrelationship of neuroscience and education. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of Project-Based Learning on students' executive functions. The participants were seventy eighth-grade social studies students, endorsed by the Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) District, the Tennessee State University Institutional Review Board (TSUIRB), and the administrators from the four participating schools. There were 35 students from the MNPS district Project-Based Learning Instruction Schools and thirty-five students from MNPS district Non-Project-Based Learning Instruction Schools. Both parental and students' consent forms were signed before students were administered the inventory.

Subject Area

Middle School education|Pedagogy|Educational psychology|Cognitive psychology|Curriculum development

Recommended Citation

Helen Virginia Beard, "The Effect of Project-Based Learning on Students' Executive Functions" (2019). ETD Collection for Tennessee State University. Paper AAI13856169.