Multiple Literacies in Project-Based Learning (PBL)

Lucas Project Staff Meeting

Multiple Literacies in Project-Based Learning is a five-year, $5.5 million research effort funded by Lucas Education Research, a division of the George Lucas Educational Foundation. The project focuses on integrating science, literacy, and mathematics at an upper elementary level to support a range of students in learning complex science ideas that align with the Next Generation of Science Standards. 

The project’s approach includes three major, complementary components:

  1. Project-Based Learning materials
  2. Professional development for teachers
  3. Connections to community and family resources to help link students’ prior knowledge and create motivation and ownership of learning. 

Multiple Literacies is a collaboration between Joseph Krajcik from Michigan State University; Annemarie Palincsar and Elliot Soloway from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor; and Emily Miller from the University of Wisconsin.  They design, develop and test materials that will engage elementary students in learning challenging ideas at the upper elementary level. Using language literacy and mathematical tools, the Multiple Literacies Project will engage students in project-based learning (PBL) to develop usable science knowledge.  

Like many CREATE for STEM projects, Multiple Literacies prioritizes providing all students with the opportunity to obtain science literacy. We recognize that STEM opportunities are often unavailable to students from diverse and underserved groups. For this reason, the project aims to ensure that students from underrepresented groups are supported in their science learning. 

To address diversity, the teaching units will include the following criteria: 

  • An emphasis on 3-dimensional learning, 
  • Attention to the community and context, 
  • Opportunity for student discussion, and 
  • An emphasis on giving students opportunities to think and reflect 

The research and design team intends to develop a scope and sequence for grades 3 through 5. They will then develop and test student and teaching materials for grades 3 and 4. Initially, the team will conduct teaching experiments in a small number of classrooms, then progress to pilot and field test  studies of all materials and an efficacy study of the third grade materials. These studies assess the student and teaching materials to ensure they work as intended and promote engagement and learning for all students. 

Click here to read more about 'Creating Wonder: Revolutionizing How Science is Taught'.

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