Problem and project-based learning to promote Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics

Essay, 2022

9 Pages, Grade: Summa Cum Laude



The following research essay will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the problem and project-based learning to promote STEM within an International School, where most curriculum integrates the International Baccalaureate programme for PYP, MYP and DP. In inquiry-based learning setting it is important for teachers to consider incorporating both problem and project-based learning, and emphasise the importance of students showing a particular interest in STEM, and how it can be beneficial for extending their knowledge and understanding of culminating both Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics together to enhance their learning opportunities. Furthermore, it is imperative to create instructional activities to stimulate and motivate students to want to become actively engaged in lessons. In terms of class projects and assignments, teachers can incorporate several different strategies to support students regularly and consistently.

Keywords: International Baccalaureate, Mathematics, Problem-based learning,

Project-based learning


For teachers who are not familiar with the problem and project-based learning, the opportunities for students to excel, understand the content and extend their knowledge and understanding of a particular subject can be overwhelming. Planning will involve students being intrinsically motivated and encouraged to actively engage in lessons. The ultimate goal and intention will be to create opportunities for students to reach their full potential and achieve these attainable targets set through the integration of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, some schools might even add the arts programme.

Relevance and sources of information

It is important to understand the difference between problem-based and project-based learning through the literature that was shared by Mills and Treagust (2003). Most of the reading outlines the importance of getting students to think critically, although one might argue that motivation plays a key role in making reasoned decisions and requiring the ability to defend them, students must be able to work in a cooperative learning environment where they collaborate. The Hun School of Princeton (2020), summarises that problem-based learning can be explained as the following: "Problem-based learning (PBL) is a teaching style that pushes students to become the drivers of their learning education. Problem-based learning uses complex, real-world issues as the classroom's subject matter, encouraging students to develop problem-solving skills and learn concepts instead of just absorbing facts” (p. 1). In comparison with other researchers, Miller (2017) explains that:

Project-based learning can target one or more content areas. Many PBL teachers start small in their first implementations and pick only a couple of content areas to target. However, as teachers and students become more PBL-savvy, STEAM can be a great opportunity to create a project that hits science, maths, technology, and even art content. (p. 1).

What is important is to allow students to learn new skills to enhance their inquiry skills to integrate Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics in the school, trying to promote collaboration, and cooperative learning will benefit the students greatly. Kolk (2021) takes another point of view and elaborates further through the implementation of Project-based learning and Stem and summarises the following statement :

Many institutions have also been moving toward project-based learning or PBL. In this instructional approach, students don't simply learn content and then apply it in a project; the traditional approach to content learning is flipped on its head. In a project-based approach to learning, students are first presented with a real-world problem or issue and then learn the content necessary to answer questions they have derived in response to the problem (p. 1).

Using instructional approaches allows students to think out of the box and make connections within a global context is imperative.

Understanding of Problem/ Project-based learning

Problem-based learning has already been used in medicine through professional training of medical staff, although in engineering especially design this strategy has been successful with especially having similarities. The reason being is the following:

- Both have large phases or stages during the project or problem
- The context of study involves an identified problem or situation, which directs students' area
- Initiated research has relied upon students' progress, which applies to their learning
- Both require high levels of student initiative, students will develop their own motivational and organisational skills (Mills and Treagust, 2003).

Focussing on the above statement alone coincides with the philosophy of the IB curriculum, which promotes STEM initiatives and encourages and motivates students intrinsically to find their passion for design and becoming innovators, focussing merely on the IB profiles, where students become "knowledgeable", "principled" effective "communicators", and "risk-takers", and being "open-minded" to learning new things and adding on their skills as outlined by IBO (n.d.). Students will only become motivated once they use their various Approaches to Teaching and Learning (ATL) skills which emphasise self-management, social, communication, thinking, which links to critical skills, and research skills, which promote inquiry-based learning as outlined by IBO (2018). The two words problem and project can easily be defined as a problem where they have to come to a solution to find an answer to fix the problem, which could be related to engineering, design or even the process of conceptual understanding in comparison with a project where the outcome of the project will lead to a new invention, a new product or something for them to share with their peers which promotes collaboration and cooperative learning.

Students' reflections are important, hence the reason, hence the reason students need to be organised due to the length of a long-term project, with the implementation of technology as suggested by Stauffer (2022). The outcomes will be open-ended after concluding the appropriate research and sharing their findings. When one identifies the problem observational skills are imperative to come up with a solution and make further suggestions to improve. One has to be a team player as group work is always promoted through collaborative projects, which fosters high-level cooperative learning, where students are encouraged to share ideas and opinions to learn from one another.


Excerpt out of 9 pages


Problem and project-based learning to promote Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics
University of the People  (Faculty of Education)
Masters in Education (Advanced Teaching for Elementary, Middle and Secondary)
Summa Cum Laude
Catalog Number
International Baccalaureate, Mathematics, Problem-based learning, Project-based learning
Quote paper
Doctor of Philosophy in Arts, Social Sciences, and Education Mario Maxwell Müller (Author), 2022, Problem and project-based learning to promote Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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