• The Seattle Times – 1-Mar-14 – Less lecturing, more doing: New approach for A.P. classes. Walter Parker, interviewed by Times Reporter, Linda Shaw. In an attempt to add depth to the curriculum in America’s most popular advanced high-school courses, some local teachers threw out most of their lectures and replaced them with a series of projects. Results so far are encouraging. AERJ – 2013
  • Beyond Breadth-Speed-Test: Toward Deeper Knowing and Engagement in an Advanced Placement Course. Walter C. Parker, Jane Lo, Angeline Jude Yeo, Sheila W. Valencia, Diem Nguyen, Robert D. Abbott, Susan B. Nolen, John D. Bransford, Nancy J. Vye, University of Washington. We report a mixed-methods design experiment that aims to achieve deeper learning in a breadth-oriented, college-preparatory course–AP U.S. Government and Politics. The study was conducted with 289 students in 12 classrooms across four schools and in an ”excellence for all” context of expanding enrollments in AP courses. Contributions include its investigation of a model of deeper learning, development of a test to assess it, and fusion of project-based learning with a traditional curriculum. Findings suggest that a course of quasi-repetitive projects can lead to higher scores on the AP test but a floor effect on the assessment of deeper learning. Implications are drawn for assessing deeper learning and helping students adapt to shifts in the grammar of schooling.
  • Journal of Curriculum Studies – 2011. Rethinking Advanced High School Coursework: Tackling the Depth/Breadth Tension in the AP “US Government and Politics” Course. Parker, Walter; Mosborg, Susan; Bransford, John; Vye, Nancy; Wilkerson, John; Abbott, Robert. This paper reports a design experiment that attempted to strike a balance between coverage and learning in an exam-oriented, college-preparatory, high school course–Advanced Placement (AP) US Government and Politics. Theoretically, the study provides a conceptual framework for penetrating the depth/breadth tension in such courses, which are known for coverage and perhaps “rigour”, but lag behind contemporary research on how people learn and what learning is. Methodologically, the paper details a mixed-methods study of an alternative approach to AP coursework, conducted with 314 students across three high schools. First-year findings indicate that a course of semi-repetitive, content-rich project cycles can lead to same or higher scores on the AP exam along with deeper conceptual learning, but that attention is needed to a collateral problem: orienting students to a new kind of coursework. (Contains 4 tables.)
  • The Foundation Review – 2011. The Quest for Deeper Learning and Engagement in Advanced High School Courses. Suzie Boss, B.A., Cynthia Johanson, M.A., and Stephen D. Arnold, Ph.D., The George Lucas Educational Foundation; Walter C. Parker, Ph.D., Diem Nguyen, Ph.D., Susan Mosborg, Ph.D., Susan Nolen, Ph.D., Sheila Valencia, Ph.D., Nancy Vye, Ph.D., and John Bransford, Ph.D., University of Washington. Key Points:
    • GLEF and a research team from the University of Washington worked with Washington’s Bellevue School District to develop and assess the impact of project-based learning on upper-level courses in high school.
    • Research suggests that Advanced Placement (AP) courses may focus too much on accelerated content at the expense of deeper conceptual learning.
    • The number of students taking AP courses has grown, but along with this the number failing has increased. GLEF and the research team tested project-based learning (PBL) to counteract this trend.
    • Results after two years are promising. Students in the PBL-AP courses are performing as well or better than students in traditional AP courses.
    • Other education funders are encouraged to use an iterative design process, work with a diverse design team, and bring in partners who can contribute needed expertise and resources.

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