Research Methodology

APA Citation: Gultekin, M. (2016).  The Effect of Project Based Learning Outcomes in the 5th Grade Social Studies Course in Primary Education.  Retrieved May 15, 2016, from
Brief summary of methodology: The study used both qualitative and quantitative research methods. This included a control group that was given both a pre­test and a post­test, and an experimental group that was interviewed based on their opinion of both the teachers and the project­based learning approach. All of the students involved attended the same primary school; the groups were created based on social studies achievement, gender, and assessment scores for a total of 40 students. The findings were collected over a three­week timespan.

Potential strengths and weaknesses of the sampling and instruments used in the article: The implementation of this study utilized a variance of convenience sampling: looking specifically at fifth grade subjects in one primary school who were enrolled in the social studies course and met particular gender and achievement requirements. This allowed for the study to be conducted over a fairly brief amount of time (three weeks), with a seamless administration of pre­ and post­tests and semi­structured interviews. Similar results for fifth grade social studies students would probably be feasible in terms of reproducibility. In analyzing the quantitative research, standard deviation was accounted for. For the experimental group, an 11­stage project­based learning process was implemented to ensure full immersion in the curriculum approach.
By narrowing down the groups to ensure equal representation based on gender and academic ­level, the study accounted for any issues of bias.
According to McMillan (2007), “qualitative studies should have informative and knowledgeable participants” (p. 114). This was addressed in the study, because each fifth grader who belonged to the experimental group ­ the group giving interview feedback ­ was shown two Powerpoint presentations which explained the project­based learning approach, including its benefits and limitations. However, since the interview was semi­structured, and the five questions included queries about the teacher, I do wonder what information the elementary school students provided. Most elementary school students revere their classroom instructions, and the feedback about instructional approach might be more positive with this group of students than with a more opinionated group of older learners.

However, it might be difficult to generalize this study outside of the social studies discipline, or for different levels of students. Although a control was in place, the sample is also not large enough to determine if there were other variables at this particular location that impacted the results. Replicating the study across other schools with similar populations of students would lend credence to the findings.
McMillan (2007) explains that although it is common for studies to focus on approximately 15 experimental subjects and 30 overall, “in many educational studies conducted in the field, higher numbers of subjects are needed” (p. 100). Of course, the need for more subjects is most often relevant when the findings are lacking in outcome, and in this particular study the results showed that students were more successful in the project­based learning group.

McMillan, J. H. (2007). Educational Research: Fundamentals for the Consumer 6th ed. Pearson.

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