Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Master's Report

Degree Name

Master of Science in Applied Science Education (MS)

Administrative Home Department

Department of Cognitive and Learning Sciences

Advisor 1

Amanda Gonczi

Advisor 2

Shari Stockero

Committee Member 1

Anthony Matthys


This study reports the effectiveness of problem-based learning (PBL) on the interest and Advanced Placement (AP) Biology exam scores of high school students. The experimental group was exposed to a constructivist PBL environment using an overarching unit problem, inquiry style lab investigations and white board discussions while the comparison group received direct instruction in the same curriculum. AP Biology exam scores were collected for two years with direct instruction and two years with PBL instruction. An interest survey was given to a subset of the experimental group and included students enrolled in the course during the 2019-2020 school year. Analysis of the data revealed no significant difference between the AP exam scores of the experimental and comparison groups indicating that PBL did not affect the experimental group negatively or positively. While students reported that lab investigations were interesting, the overarching unit problem and white board discussions did little to increase their interest and motivation in class.