Journal of Science Education and Technology

, Volume 19, Issue 4, pp 370–386 | Cite as

Preservice Teachers’ Conceptions and Enactments of Project-Based Instruction

  • Jill A. Marshall
  • Anthony J. Petrosino
  • Taylor Martin


We present results of an investigation of preservice secondary mathematics and science teachers’ conceptions of project-based instruction (PBI) and their enactments of PBI in apprentice (student) teaching. We evaluated their thinking and implementations within a composite framework based on the work of education researchers. We analyzed survey responses, both qualitatively and statistically, from three cohorts of preservice teachers both before and after apprentice teaching. In addition we interviewed and observed a subset of these future teachers. We found that in general the preservice teachers held superficial views of PBI, as compared to the researcher framework. Participants reported time and curriculum restrictions as major barriers; however, teachers for whom enactment of PBI was presented as an explicit goal, and who were given support toward that end, were more likely to enact authentic implementations, regardless of previous reservations about PBI. Without this additional scaffolding, even teachers with high affinity for PBI were unlikely to implement it authentically.


Project based instruction Preservice teachers Teacher preparation Project based learning 



This work was funded, in part, through three National Science Foundation grants: Collaboratives for Excellence in Teacher Preparation (CETP) grant NSF-DUE-9953187, NSF-EEC-9876363 (VaNTH-ERC) and NSF-DUE-0831811 (UTeach Engineering). We would like to thank the reviewers and editors for their constructive input. We would also like to thank Rachel Barrera, Nourah Caskey, Theodore Chao, Thanapun Charlee, Adem Ekmekci, Jessica Gordon, Amy Moreland, Jenny Mount, Jiyoon Park, Mina Rios, Kate Walker and Candace Walkington for their assistance in interviewing and coding. The ideas expressed in this work are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the ideas of the granting agencies.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jill A. Marshall
    • 1
  • Anthony J. Petrosino
    • 1
  • Taylor Martin
    • 1
  1. 1.The University of Texas at Austin, Science and Mathematics EducationAustinUSA

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