Master of Natural Sciences (MNS)


Biological Sciences

Document Type



This study investigated the effectiveness and student perceptions of Problem Based Learning (PBL) compared to Traditional Based Learning (TBL) in an eighth grade rural, public middle school using two earth science concepts. Over a four week period, students were taught concepts related to both Plate Tectonics and Rocks. The control group (TBL) for Plate Tectonics (n = 46) was the experimental group (PBL) for Rocks (n = 47). Similarly, the experimental group (PBL) for Plate Tectonics (n = 49) was the control group (TBL) for Rocks (n = 51). The pretest scores and learning gains for the students were compared to suggest PBL is equally effective as TBL for the concepts. In addition, the pretest questions were categorized into lower order and higher order questions and the positive learning gain for the higher order questions suggests PBL is effective as TBL. Student retention for the concepts was assessed six months after the original study. The data implies students in both the experimental and control groups are not statistically different in terms of content retention. Finally, student perceptions suggest the experimental groups enjoyed learning about their concept more when PBL techniques were used.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Wischusen, William