Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor's Name

Linda Spears-Bunton

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Patricia Barbetta

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Third Advisor's Name

Haiying Long

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Sarah Mathews

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member


project-based learning, self-directed learning, content knowledge retention, knowledge comprehension, knowledge retention, self-directed learning readiness skills, situated learning

Date of Defense



Self-directed learning (SDL) readiness skills and the command and/or retention of content knowledge have been identified as key factors for success in post-secondary settings. The Government of Jamaica (GOJ) has stated that two in three Jamaican secondary school graduates lack the requisite content knowledge and self-directed learning skills needed for advancement in the work space and in postsecondary education (Vision 2030 Jamaica National Development Plan, 2009). This dissertation examined the efficacy of project-based learning (PBL) as a method of instruction for improving SDL readiness skills and content knowledge retention. More specifically, the phenomenon was explored within the context of a developing country – in this case – Jamaica. The difference in SDL readiness skills and content knowledge retention was investigated among 8th grade students in an urban high school under PBL conditions (N = 30) and under Traditional Direct Instruction (N=35) using a quasi-experimental design. Data on students’ SDL readiness skills, knowledge comprehension and content knowledge retention were collected using validated instruments. Scores on all three measures were recorded pre-intervention and post-intervention with a follow-up on content knowledge retention.

One way repeated measures mixed ANOVAs were run. Results showed that on SDL readiness skills, the difference over time for the PBL group was significantly different from the difference over time for the TDI/control group (pp





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