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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation
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Lucas Education Research: Current Projects

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We identify strategic collaborations with university-based researchers and educational research labs and establish strong partnerships with districts, schools, and teachers to establish the evidence base for innovative K-12 educational models.

High School

Knowledge in Action Project

Led by Principal Investigators Drs. John Bransford, Susan Nolen, and Walter Parker, this partnership with the University of Washington College of Education focuses on designing and studying Advanced Placement (AP) project-based learning courses that add value for learning, engagement, and identity for diverse groups of students. Courses include AP U.S. Government and Politics, AP Environmental Science and AP Physics.

Efficacy Study of the Knowledge in Action Advanced Placement U.S. Government and Environmental Science Projects

This evaluation, led by Anna R. Saavedra and John B. Engberg at RAND, will examine curriculum, instruction, and assessment approaches in traditional and project-based learning AP classrooms and the challenges and facilitators associated with both types of implementation. The study will also use a randomized control trial approach to estimate the causal impact of the Knowledge in Action PBL courses on student outcomes.

“Composing Our World”: Supporting Literacy and Social and Emotional Learning through Project-Based Learning

Recognizing a need to engage students in deep learning, reflection, empathy, and fun, this study will develop and study a project-based learning ecosystem to support 9th grade English Language Arts. The study is led by Joseph Polman, Alison Boardman, and Bridget Dalton at the University of Colorado at Boulder, Antero Garcia at the Colorado State University, and Gabrielle Rappolt-Schlichtmann at CAST.

Middle School

Learning Through Performance Project

The Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning, and Equity (SCALE), under the direction of Drs. Linda Darling-Hammond and Raymond Pecheone, will develop 6th grade project-based curricula with performance-based assessments to accelerate and deepen student learning of Common Core State Standards in mathematics and Next Generation Science Standards.

Elementary School

Multiple Literacies in PBL Project

Dr. Joseph Krajcik from Michigan State University, Dr. Annemarie Palincsar from the University of Michigan and their team will design, develop and test rigorous interdisciplinary project-based learning curricula for the upper elementary grades. Lessons will require sense making through the application of science ideas and practices, language literacy, mathematical thinking and technology tools.

Project-Approach to Literacy and Civic Engagement (PLACE) Project

The PLACE project is a 2nd grade project-based learning program integrating social studies and content literacy.

  • Validation Research: Principal Investigators Dr. Nell Duke from the University of Michigan and Dr. Anne-Lise Halvorsen from Michigan State University will conduct randomized controlled trials to examine whether the project-based pedagogy helps teachers significantly narrow the achievement gap between students in low-income schools and schools whose students come from households with higher income levels.

Investigating the Role of Curriculum Materials and Connected Support in Learning Project-Based Instruction

  • Teacher Beliefs and Contributions: Principal Investigator, Dr. Deborah Ball from the University of Michigan, and Susanna Farmer, a doctoral student, are conducting a study in conjunction with Project PLACE. This study will investigate the complementary contributions of teachers and curriculum materials in changing teachers’ ideas about project-based instruction over time.

Learn about the team behind Lucas Education Research

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