Date of Award

Fall 12-12-2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Education (MSEd)


Education and Human Development

First Advisor

Dr. Younkyeong Nam


As expressed in the 21st century skills framework, the goal of education is to create lifelong learners who can contribute to society. To accomplish this task, students must be exposed to real world problems providing students the opportunity to retain knowledge for future acquisition and application. Problem based learning (PBL) is distinct from other learning philosophies and strategies because it centers content and skills on problems instead of providing a list of concepts and then trying to make them applicable to the real world (Jonassen & Hung, 2008).

Most PBL research and curriculums have been created at the college level, in particular, in medical related programs. Implementing PBL activities at the secondary level can be challenging due to the content required to solve real world problems and the complexity of these problems usually involving multiple solution pathways. This capstone project will address the challenges associated with implementation by using different components of PBL (worked examples, structural analogues, case studies, and simulations), utilizing a problem difficulty rating scale (level of complexity and structuredness), and incorporating scaffolding techniques (analogical encoding, causal relationships, argumentation, questioning, and modeling) to help students become successful at the secondary level. Within the project, the human body unit was chosen to show how using a variety of implementation strategies discussed above can make college level content accessible to secondary level students. Also, the unit allows students to act like real life doctors by using each patient’s history, symptoms, and test results to determine a diagnosis. Essentially, this capstone project will show how a teacher can take a traditional unit such as human body systems and turn it into a PBL unit filled with authentic, mind-challenging but supported learning tasks.