The Effects of Project Work in a First-Grade Classroom

A Little Goes a Long Way
This article discusses how a brief project-based unit promoted the learning of children in a first-grade classroom. The children attended a public elementary school located in a southeastern university town in the United States. Approximately 94% of the students in the school were from economically disadvantaged families. No children in this classroom were Caucasian, and most of them came from single-parent households. We compared the children’s learning and performance in a teacher-directed science unit on animals versus a project-based unit on chicks. Results revealed that more state-mandated objectives were covered during the project-based unit than during the teacher-directed unit and that children had “more to say” by using more words and expressing more specific and accurate ideas after the project-based instruction. The project also provided more enriched learning opportunities than the traditional teacher-directed unit. Implications for early childhood teacher education are included.
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