George Lucas Educational Foundation

Multi-disciplinary PBL

Multi-disciplinary PBL

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To what extent are schools adopting a multi-disciplinary approach to PBL in the States? Are there any schools doing it in all grades? At Bristol Brunel Academy, the curriculum is almost entirely multi-disciplinary PBL in grades 7 & 8 (The exceptions are languages and PE). We will move to grade 9 next year. It is really working and their levels of literacy and numeracy have shot up, along with the good habits of learning they are developing. We are now considering whether or not we should continue in a multi-disciplinary way into grades 10 & 11. In the UK grades 10 & 11 are where students begin GCSE courses (the national examination system). We think there will be huge advantages, but we are concerned that some subjects may be watered down or 'lost' in the project and therefore lead to poor results. It's a big move. Do you think we should stick to subject based PBL? I'd really appreciate your views. PS - I'm about to move to a new school where I will be helping to design the building (PBL will be the main focus for design). Even more reason to raise this question.

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Scott Cameron Reed's picture

I would be very interested in some further details on how the curriculum is structured. By comparison with the outline you provide, we hardly have any subjects which are taught through a multidisciplinary approach in the public school system.

Ellen Feig's picture

Really interesting subject - some other professors and I have been trying for a year to begin a "pod" or "cohort" that would incorporate biology/psychology/sociology/english. Students would choose to enter the cohort and would move through the four areas on a rotating basis with the assessment being one large project that incorporates all disciplines. To date our administration has been reluctant; I believe this stems from an uncertainty as to how it would actually work.

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