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Problem-Based Learning for Math and Science: Integrating Inquiry and the Internet

Diane L. Ronis
Corwin Press
Publication Date: 
Number of Pages: 
[Reviewed by
J. Christopher Tweddle
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This book addresses why inquiry-based learning is effective pedagogy in mathematics and science education, and provides suggestions on implementation and assessment of problem-based learning (PBL). Author Diane Ronis provides many sample projects in her book. Each example begins with an overview of the mathematics , science and technology standards (from the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, The National Science Education Standards and the National Education Technology Standards project, respectively) that the project seeks to fulfill. Instructions, including student handouts, are provided, as well as suggestions to modify the project to meet different abilities and goals.

The first three chapters of the book focus on the value of PBL in math and science education. The author states that inquiry-based learning is a better approach for engaging students and promoting mathematical and scientific literacy than the traditional "teacher-centered" approach. References to the research of educators and cognitive scientists buttress the authors assertions. In chapter three, the author outlines the meta-structure of PBL.

The fourth chapter provides a guide for implementing PBL in the classroom and incorporating the technique into current curricula. Chapter five provides suggestions for alternative (non-testing) assessment of inquiry-based learning and offers directions for rubric design and use. The final chapter illustrates PBL as a service learning opportunity. The appendix offers a description of web-based resources and tools for students.

The book is intended as a handbook for K–12 educators interested in problem-based learning. It is  likely best suited for middle grades. The author provides sample projects, together with rubrics and suggestions for modification, that allow new users an opportunity to experiment with PBL without incurring the high start-up costs of developing a program from scratch. Unfortunately, the projects do contain some technical inaccuracies (predominately math and physics), so users should be cautious.

I would recommend this book for classroom teachers interested in incorporating problem-based learning projects to complement traditional lessons. The argument in support of PBL is a bit long — if you are reading a book on implementing inquiry-based learning, aren't you already a believer? — but the guidelines on using and assessing such projects, as well as the ready-to-use samples, make this a worthwhile resource.

Chris Tweddle ( is an Assistant Professor of Mathematics at the University of Evansville. His interests include partial differential equations (especially as tools for image processing), undergraduate research, and training pre-service teachers of mathematics.


The Concepts Explored in This Book
The Standards Used in This Book
The Goal of This Book
1. The Integration of Mathematics, Science, Technology, and Problem-Based Learning
Redefining Literacy
Using Problem-Based Learning to Increase Literacy
Relating Technology to Math and Science
Integrating Problem-Based Learning With Cyber-Age Math and Science
Integrated Inquiry Project, Middle Level: Meteorology
2. Problem-Based Learning and Constructivism
Why Problem-Based Learning Is Brain-Compatible
Problem-Based Learning and the Constructivist Model: The Five E's
Teaching in the Problem-Based Learning Classroom
Integrated Inquiry Project, Middle/Secondary Level: Developing Entrepreneurial Excellence
3. Aspects and Approaches of Problem-Based Learning
Phases of Implementation
Problem-Based Learning Techniques
New Roles for Teachers
Integrated Inquiry Project 1: Middle/Secondary Levels: The Roller Coaster
Integrated Inquiry Project 2: Secondary Level: Building Bridges
4. Planning Problem-Based Learning for the Classroom
Planning for Integrated Learning
Guidelines for Implementing a Problem-Based Learning Project
Questions to Promote Problem Solving
Integrated Inquiry Project, Multilevel: The Mississippi Delta
5. Evaluating and Assessing Problem-Based Learning
Alternative Assessments
Types of Authentic Assessment and Evaluation
Integrated Inquiry Project, Multilevel: Architectural Design
6. Integrating Community Learning Activities Into the Classroom
The National Association of Partners in Education
Organizational Partnerships in Education
Helping Experts Become Teachers
Community Connections: Multilevel Car Project
Appendix: Cyber Sources for Math, Science, and Technology