Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Steven R. Wininger (Director), Lisa C. Duffin, Carl L. Myers

Degree Program

Department of Psychology

Degree Type

Specialist in Education


The present study specifically evaluated the long-term effects of problem-based learning (PBL) instruction on the mathematics achievement of students who demonstrated higher ability in the subject area than their comparable peers. Subjects included 65 students from six south-central Kentucky elementary schools who participated in Project Gifted Education in Math and Science (Project GEMS), a grant partially funded through the Jacob K. Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education Program. The students were assigned to one of three conditions – PBL-Plus, PBL, or Control – based upon school of attendance. The participants were then administered baseline testing in the fall of the third-grade year using the Test of Mathematical Abilities for Gifted Students (TOMAGS). The TOMAGS was then re-administered each subsequent spring (grades 3-6) for growth data. A mixed two-factor ANOVA revealed that there was no significant interaction between the groups across time. Therefore, it was determined that PBL instruction did not result in a greater level of mathematics achievement compared to a traditional curriculum; in addition, quantity of PBL instruction did not impact mathematics achievement. Interestingly, all groups demonstrated significant gains in mathematics achievement regardless of treatment condition. Several limitations could have interfered with the results of this study, including student attrition, fidelity of implementation, and professional development in PBL curriculum received by the control schools (outside of Project GEMS). As a result, the researchers recommend further research employing stricter fidelity checks and larger sample sizes.


Educational Psychology | Elementary Education and Teaching | Psychology | Science and Mathematics Education