1. PBL Update from Israel 2010, by Sherman Rosenfeld
2. Motivating Teachers to Enact Free-Choice Project-Based Learning: Effects of a Professional Development Model. Journal of Science Teachers, 2008
3. Bridging the Gap Between Formal and Informal Science Learning. Studies in Science Education, 1996
4. "I Can Do It!" Competition: Israeli high schoolers provide 'inventive' solutions for people with special needs, by Sharon Kanon, ISRAEL21C.Com, July 2, 2006.
5. Middle School Students Can Make a Difference: Designing Inventions for People with Special Needs. Presentation at the World Futures Society conference, May, 2008. PPT (7 megs) and accompanying Podcast.
Pearlman asked me to give an update on the PBL scene in
like to start with some background. From 1993-1998, the Israeli Ministry
of Education engaged in one of
During the past decade, the educational pendulum in Israel has swung "back to the basics," with an emphasis on enhancing and documenting student academic achievement in a variety of school subjects, largely through national and international testing. But while this change in orientation has led to a marked decline in student project work, it's not the whole story. Two recent developments, initiated by the Pedagogical Secretariat in the Ministry of Education are worth mentioning. First, a systemic national program to integrate thinking skills throughout the curriculum has been initiated; part of this program has included incentives and support for student research projects in diverse subject areas, as a component of the Israeli high-school matriculation (the Bagrut). Second, a national committee was established to prepare a comprehensive guide for educational leaders, to help them create and sustain "the culture of inquiry in schools" from K-12 and across the disciplines. The committee has met for 2 years and now is in the process of writing this guide.
A third development is the growing connection between formal and informal education (4). One example of this trend is the national "I Can Do It!" competition, in which middle school Israeli students are invited to design inventions and devices for specific people with special needs. In each case, the student design teams need to identify the individual's specific needs and work together to create a working prototype that meets these needs. This project competition takes place in Israeli middle schools, sometimes as part of the school's formal science and technology program and sometimes as part an after-school program (5).
These three developments suggest that Israeli education may be entering a new era of "coexistence" between two educational paradigms: the conventional achievement-based paradigm and a paradigm of student-based research and the development of thinking skills.
Is this a realistic forecast or simply the daydream of an incorrigible optimist? Time will tell. Stay tuned.
1. A summary of 4 related research studies is located at: http://www.designworlds.com/techscape/Sherm_ArticleLinks.html
2. Falik, O., Eylon, B-S. and Rosenfeld, S. (2008). Motivating Teachers to Enact Free-Choice Project-Based Learning: Effects of a Professional Development Model. Journal of Science Teachers, 19 (6): 565-591. (See attached file.)
Loria, Y., Shaltiel, L., Pieterse, E., Rosenfeld, S. (1999). "The Development
of Software to Support Teachers and their Students in PBL: 'The
4. Hofstein, A. and Rosenfeld, S. (1996). "Bridging the Gap Between Formal and Informal Science Learning." Studies in Science Education, 28, 87-112. (See attached file.)
5. Ashkenazi, R. and Rosenfeld, S. (2008). Middle School Students Can Make a Difference: Designing Inventions for People with Special Needs. Presentation at the World Futures Society conference, May, 2008. (See attached files of Powerpoint presentation, accompanying audio and background article).