In this paper, we present a design solution that involves the bringing together of Project-based Learning (PBL) with the theory of usable knowledge (Pellegrino & Hilton, Developing transferable knowledge and skills in the 21st century, 2012). Usable knowledge is the ability to use ideas to solve problems and explain phenomena, an approach to science learning put forth by the Framework for K-12 Science Education (National Research Council (NRC), A framework for K–12 science education: Practices, crosscutting concepts, and core ideas, 2012) to optimize science learning environments. We offer a process for designing a curricular system that enhances how students learn science as a progression toward sophisticated practice of usable knowledge by focusing on coherence, depth, and motivation. We saw the potential of these distinct approaches for informing one another, and we extrapolate on 4 years of research that involves the process of iterating on our curricular design to best integrate the two approaches to support student learning.
Article in Disciplinary and Interdisciplinary Science Education Research 1, Article number: 7 (2019)