Effectiveness of Problem-Based Learning on Secondary Students’ Achievement in Science: A Meta-Analysis

International Journal of Instruction 14 (4):69-84 (2021)
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Preparing students for the real challenges in life is one of the most important goals in education. Constructivism is an approach that uses real-life experiences to construct knowledge. Problem-Based Learning (PBL), for almost five decades now, has been the most innovative constructivist pedagogy used worldwide. However, with the rising popularity, there is a need to revisit empirical studies regarding PBL to serve as a guide and basis for designing new studies, making institutional policies, and evaluating educational curricula. This need has led the researchers to do a meta-analysis to analyse the effectiveness of PBL on secondary students’ achievement in different scientific disciplines. Following the set of inclusion and exclusion criteria, 11 studies in Eurasia, Africa, and America conducted from 2016 to 2020 have qualified for this study. Six of which focused on JHS (n = 1047) and five on SHS (n = 375). Studies were obtained from various meta-search engines including Google, ERIC, and JSTOR. Further, the researchers used Harzing’s Publish and Perish software to exhaust the search process. Sample size, mean, and standard deviation were analysed using the Comprehensive MetaAnalysis version 3 to determine the effect sizes (Hedge’s g) and the results of moderator analysis, forest plot, funnel plot, and Begg-Mazumdar test. Findings have shown that PBL, as an approach to teaching science, had a large and positive effect (ES = .871) on the achievement of secondary students. However, grade levels and various scientific disciplines did not influence students’ learning achievement. The conduct of more studies on the different factors affecting PBL implementation and specific effects of PBL on various student domains is recommended to facilitate comparative educational research in the future.

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Aaron Funa
De La Salle University


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