Monday, 2 June 2014

Welcome to Innovation for Engagement

As many of you know I am currently pursuing a Winston Churchill Memorial Trust research fellowship looking at best practice in the implementation, management and delivery of Project Based Learning (PBL) and related instructional techniques. 

This blog will keep you up to date with what I find out and act as a resource bank to those of you interested in student engagement, curriculum design and PBL. 

But first, a little background...  

Why am I doing this?
1) 21st Century education and work requires 21st Century Skills 

Business leaders report a lack of the necessary competencies and skills amongst incoming graduates. This is the thinking behind the creation of studio schools and the focus placed on 21st Century competencies and skills by a number of innovative new schools.

2) Disengagement is a problem
Evidence from the U.S. and U.K. suggests that students find school BORING. This has an obvious implication for their motivation to learn and thus achievement. 

On the basis of 1) and 2) some have argued that our current model of schooling is not fit for purpose. This implies that if we are to successfully prepare students for success we need to re-think our old ways of doing things. 

One approach taken by a growing number of schools across the world is to re-structure their curriculum to deliver Project Based Learning (PBL) or a combination of different learning methods more akin to the world beyond school (flipped learning, online learning, challenge-based learning, problem-based learning and Enquiry based learning.)

3)  The growing evidence base for the efficacy of PBL 

Evidence suggests PBL can have a positive impact on student engagement and achievement when compared to traditional instruction for a number of subject areas.  Go here for a summary.

I plan to travel to high performing schools across USA and Sweden that are successfully delivering PBL or a range of related instructional techniques.

The aims of the trip

1) To gather evidence of the impact of PBL approaches on student aspirations and achievement in a range of international contexts. The aim is to compile a series of case studies of schools currently using PBL to facilitate deeper understanding leading to high achievement & the simultaneous development of 21st Century skills. 

2) To gather best practice to inform the curriculum design in prospective studio schools through exploring processes and management of project oriented curricula in successful U.S. and Swedish school chains. 

3) To explore how technology can be best used to support the successful management of PBL projects. 

4) To collect a bank of classroom examples in PBL and related pedagogical approaches from across the world to share at the school, academy trust and national level for practitioners in the classroom. These will feature project planning, management and exhibition tools in addition to example student projects adapted to fit the UK context.

What have I done so far?

I have just spent the last week in New York and Rhode Island visiting some of the regions highest performing and most innovative schools. It has been a truly inspiring start to this 5 week leg. My first series of school profile articles will be with you soon!

You can keep up to date by checking back @:


Or here.

Keep fighting the good fight.


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