This page includes quantitative and qualitative research that supports the evidence base for using the Project Approach with young children.
- Ainley, M., Hidi, S., & Berndorff, D. (2002). Interest, learning, and the psychological processes that mediate their relationship. Journal of Educational Psychology, 94(3), 545-561.
- Baker, S. K., Simmons, D. C., & Kameenui, E. J. (1995). Vocabulary acquisition: Synthesis of the research. In NCITE Research Synthesis: Reading and Diverse Learners.
- Beneke, S. (1998). Rearview mirror: Reflections on a preschool car project. Champaign, IL: ERIC Clearinghouse on Elementary and Early Childhood Education. Illinois residents can check out the DVD from the Illinois Early Learning Clearinghouse.
- Beneke, S. (2000). Implementing the project approach in part-time early childhood education programs. Early Childhood Research and Practice, 2(1).
- Beneke, S. (2002). Practical strategies. In J. H. Helm & S. Beneke (Eds.), The power of projects: Meeting contemporary challenges in early childhood classrooms—strategies and solutions (pp. 80-86). New York: Teachers College Press.
- Beneke, S. (2004). Rearview mirror: Reflections on a preschool car project (video). Champaign: University of Illinois, Early Childhood and Parenting Collaborative.
- Beneke, S., Ostrosky, M. M., & Katz, L. G. (2005). Let’s give ‘em something to talk about: The language arts and science connection. In E. Horn & H. Jones (Eds.), Young Exceptional Journal monograph series: No. 7. Supporting early literacy development in young children (pp. 87-100). Longmont, CO: Sopris West.
- Beneke, S. & Ostrosky, M. M. (2009). Teachers’ Views of the Efficacy of Incorporating the Project Approach into Classroom Practice with Diverse Learners , 11(1).
- Beneke, S. J., & Ostrosky, M. M. (2013). The potential of the project approach to support diverse young learners. Young Children, 68(2), 22-29.
- Beyer, L. E. (1997). William Heard Kilpatrick. Prospects: The Quarterly Review of Comparative Education, 27(3), 470-485.
- Bowman, Barbara T.; Donovan, M. Suzanne; & Burns, M. Susan (Eds.). (2001). Eager to learn: Educating our preschoolers. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
- Bransford, J. D., Brown, A. L., & Cocking, R. R. (Eds.). (1999). How people learn: Brain, mind, experience, and school. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
- Bruner, J. S. (1980). Under five in Britain: Vol. 1. Oxford preschool research project. Ypsilanti, MI: High/Scope Press.
- DeVries, R., Reese-Learned, H., & Morgan, P. (1991). Sociomoral development in direct-instruction, eclectic, and constructivist kindergartens: A study of children’s enacted interpersonal understanding. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 6(4), 473-517.
- Donegan, M., Hong, S. B., Trepanier-Street, M., & Finkelstein, C. (2005). Exploring how project work enhances student teachers’ understanding of children with special needs. Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education, 26(1), 37-46.
- Dresden, J., & Lee, K. (2007). The effects of project work in a first-grade classroom: A little goes a long way. Early Childhood Research and Practice, 9(1).
- Dyson, A. H. (1990). Symbol makers, symbol weavers: How children link play, pictures, and print. Young Children, 45(2), 50-57.
- Edmiaston, R. K. (1998). Projects in inclusive early childhood classrooms. In J. H. Helm (Ed.), The project approach catalog 2 (pp. 19-22). Champaign, IL: ERIC Clearinghouse on Elementary and Early Childhood Education.
- Espinosa, L. M. (2002). High quality preschool: Why we need it and what it looks like. (Preschool Policy Matters No. 1). New Brunswick, NJ: National Institute for Early Education Research.
- Fawcett, L. M., & Garton, A. F. (2005). The effect of peer collaboration on children’s problem-solving ability. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 75(2), 157-169.
- Fillmore, L. W., & Snow, C. E. (2000). What teachers need to know about language. Washington, DC: Center for Applied Linguistics.
- Forman, G. (1996). A child constructs an understanding of a water wheel in five media. Childhood Education, 72(5), 269-273.
- Gauvain, M., & Rogoff, B. (1989). Collaborative problem solving and children’s planning skills. Developmental Psychology, 25(1), 139-151.
- Hart, B., & Risley, T. R. (1995). Meaningful differences in the everyday experience of young American children. Baltimore, MD: Brookes.
- Helm, J. H. (Ed.). (2000). The project approach catalog 4: Literacy and project work. Champaign: University of Illinois, Early Childhood and Parenting Collaborative.
- Helm, J. H., & Beneke, S. (Eds.). (2002). The power of projects: Meeting contemporary challenges in early childhood classrooms—strategies and solutions. New York: Teachers College Press.
- Helm, J. H., Beneke, S., & Steinheimer, K. (1997). Teacher materials for documenting young children’s work: Using Windows on Learning. New York: Teachers College Press.
- Helm, J. H., Beneke, S., & Steinheimer, K. (2007). Windows on learning: Documenting young children’s work (2 nd ed.). New York: Teachers College Press.
- Helm, J. H., & Katz, L. G. (2001). Young investigators: The project approach in the early years. New York: Teachers College Press.
- Hertzog, N. B. (2007). Transporting Pedagogy: Implementing the Project Approach in two first-grade Classrooms. Journal of Advanced Academics, 18(4), 530-564.
- Heyman, G. D., Dweck, C. S., & Cain, K. M. (1992). Young children’s vulnerability to self-blame and helplessness: Relationship to beliefs about goodness. Child Development, 63(2), 401-415.
- High/Scope Educational Research Foundation. (2003). The High/Scope approach: Preschool.
- Illinois Early Learning Council. (2006, spring). Preschool for all: High-quality early education for all of Illinois’ children.
- Illinois State Board of Education, Division of Early Childhood. (2002). Illinois early learning standards. Springfield: Illinois State Board of Education.
- International Reading Association & National Association for the Education of Young Children. (1998). Learning to read and write: Developmentally appropriate practices for young children. A joint position statement of the International Reading Association and the National Association for the Education of Young Children. Young Children, 53(4), 30-46.
- Katz, L. G. (1993). Dispositions: Definitions and implications for early childhood practice. Champaign, IL: ERIC Clearinghouse on Elementary and Early Childhood Education.
- Katz, L. G. (1994). The project approach. ERIC Digest. Champaign, IL: ERIC Clearinghouse on Elementary and Early Childhood Education.
- Katz, L. G. (1999). Curriculum disputes in early childhood education. ERIC Digest. Champaign, IL: ERIC Clearinghouse on Elementary and Early Childhood Education.
- Katz, L. G., & Chard, S. C. (1989). Engaging children’s minds: The project approach. Greenwich, CT: Ablex.
- Katz, L. G., & Chard, S. C. (1998). Issues in selecting topics for projects. ERIC Digest. Champaign, IL: ERIC Clearinghouse on Elementary and Early Childhood Education.
- Katz, L. G., & Chard, S. C. (2000). Engaging children’s minds: The project approach (2 nd ed.). Stamford, CT: Ablex.
- Kilpatrick, W. H. (1918). The project method. Teacher’s College Record, 19, 319-335.
- Knoll, M. (1997). The project method: Its vocational education origin and international development. Journal of Industrial Teacher Education, 34(3), 59-80.
- Levin, I., Bus, A. G. (2003). How is emergent writing based on drawing? Analyses of children’s products and their sorting by children and mothers. Developmental Psychology, 39(5), 891-905.
- Lowenfeld, V., & Brittain, W. L. (1987). Creative and mental growth (8 th ed.). New York: Macmillan.
- Marcon, R. A. (2002). Moving up the grades: Relationship between preschool model and later school success. Early Childhood Research and Practice, 4(1).
- Martinello, M. L. (1998). Learning to question for inquiry. Educational Forum, 62(2), 164-171.
- Masonheimer, P. E., Drum, P. A., & Ehri, L. C. (1984). Does environmental print identification lead children into word reading? Journal of Reading Behavior, 16(4), 257-272.
- Meisels, S. J. (1992). Doing harm by doing good: Iatrogenic effects of early childhood enrollment and promotion policies. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 7(2), 155-174.
- Miller, L. B., & Bizzell, R. P. (1983). The Louisville experiment: A comparison of four programs. In Consortium for Longitudinal Studies (Ed.), As the twig is bent…lasting effects of preschool programs (pp. 171-199). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
- Morrow, L. M. (1990). Preparing the classroom environment to promote literacy during play. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 5(4), 537-554.
- Morrow, L. M., & Schickedanz, J. A. (2005). Relationship between sociodramatic play and literacy development. In D. K. Dickinson & S. B. Neuman (Eds.), Handbook of early literacy research (Vol. 2, pp. 269-280). New York: Guilford Press.
- National Association for the Education of Young Children. (2003). Early childhood curriculum, assessment, and program evaluation: Building an effective, accountable system in programs for children birth through age 8 (Position statement with expanded resources).
- National Reading Panel. (2000). Report of the National Reading Panel: Teaching children to read: An evidence-based assessment of the scientific research literature on reading and its implications for reading instruction. (NIH Pub. No. 00-4769). Washington, DC: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.
- Neuman, S. B. (2006). The knowledge gap: Implications for early education. In D. K. Dickinson & S. B. Neuman (Eds.), Handbook of early literacy research (Vol. 2, pp. 29-40). New York: Guilford Press.
- Neuman, S. B., & Roskos, K. (1990). The influence of literacy-enriched play settings on preschoolers’ engagement with written language. National Reading Conference Yearbook, 39, 179-187.
- Neuman, S. B., & Roskos, K. (1992). Literacy objects as cultural tools: Effects on children’s literacy behaviors in play. Reading Research Quarterly, 27(3), 202-225.
- Neuman, S. B., & Roskos, K. (1993). Access to print for children of poverty: Differential effects of adult mediation and literacy-enriched play settings on environmental and functional taks. American Educational Research Journal, 30(1), 95-122.
- No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, 20 U.S.C. 6301 et seq. (2002).
- Pellegrini, A. D., & Galda, L. (1997). The role of close relationships in early literacy learning: Towards a working model. (Reading Research Report No. 80). Athens, GA: National Reading Research Center.
- Pyterek, M. M. (2006). How can a teacher begin to help her kindergarten students gain “authentic” cultural understandings about Native North Americans through children’s literature?
- Schuler, D. (1998). Teaching project skills with a mini-project. In J. H. Helm (Ed.), The project approach catalog 2 (pp. 15-18). Champaign, IL: ERIC Clearinghouse on Elementary and Early Childhood Education.
- Schweinhart, L. J., & Weikart, D. P. (1997). The High Scope/Perry Preschool curriculum comparison study through age 23. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 12(2), 117-143.
- Scranton, P. (2003). The bird project. In J. H. Helm & S. Beneke (Eds.), The power of projects: Meeting contemporary challenges in early childhood classrooms—strategies and solutions (pp. 57-63). New York: Teachers College Press.
- Siraj-Blatchford, I., & Sylva, K. (2004). Researching pedagogy in English pre-schools. British Educational Research Journal 30(5), 713-730.
- Smiley, P. A., & Dweck, C. S. (1994). Individual differences in achievement goals among young children. Child Development, 65(6), 1723-1743.
- Smith, L. A. H. (1997). “Open education” revisited: Promise and problems in American educational reform (1967-1976). Teachers College Record, 99(2), 371-415.
- Souto-Manning, M., & Lee, K. (2005). “In the beginning I thought it was all play:” Parents’ perceptions of the project approach in a second grade classroom. School Community Journal, 15(2), 7-20.
- Sylva, K., Melhuish, E., Sammons, P., Siraj-Blatchford, I., Taggart, B., & Elliot, K. (2003). The effective provision of pre-school education (EPPE) project: Findings from the pre-school period: Summary of findings. London: University of London, Institute of Education.
- Tabors, P. O. (1997). One child, two languages: A guide for preschool educators of children learning English as a second language. Baltimore: Brookes.
- Trister Dodge, D., Colker, L. J., & Heroman, C. (2003). The creative curriculum for preschool (4 th ed.). Washington, DC: Teaching Strategies.
- Weizman, Z. O., & Snow, C. E. (2001). Lexical input as related to children’s vocabulary acquisition: Effects of sophisticated exposure and support for meaning. Developmental Psychology, 37(2), 265-279.
- Youngquist, J.,& Pataray-Ching, J. (2004). Revisiting “play”: Analyzing and articulating acts of inquiry. Early Childhood Education Journal, 31(3), 171-178.
- Ziegert, D. I., Kistner, J. A., Castro, R., & Robertson, B. (2001). Longitudinal study of young children’s responses to challenging achievement situations. Child Development, 72(2), 609-624.
An object or item collected by the participants that is related to the project topic (e.g., a sling or stethoscope in a hospital project).
- Culminating Activities
A variety of planned activities during the final phase of a project. For example, children may include a presentation to parents or to other classes describing the project in which they share their findings and documentation, or they may create a final representation or construction for public display.
Habits of mind as distinguished, or distinct from, knowledge and skills, which may include such intellectual dispositions as the disposition to make sense of experience; to theorize, analyze, hypothesize, predict, persist in seeking and sharing information and solutions to problems; and to speculate about cause-effect relationships.
Processes of keeping records and samples of children’s work at different stages of completion that reveal or indicate children’s experiences during the project and their increasing competence and learning. Samples of children’s work used to document their experiences during the project and their growth are also referred to as documentation and may include observations made by the participants, children’s self-reflections, individual or group products, portfolio items, or narratives.
A person knowledgeable about the topic of the project who can be interviewed by the children.
- Field Trip
A journey to a specific field site related to the topic being investigated in the project.
The processes of collecting information to answer the questions the children generated in Phase 1. Fieldwork is conducted during the second phase of a project.
Questions about the topic generated by the children to help them obtain answers to the questions that are the basis of their investigation. Interviews are conducted by the children, and interviewees might be visiting experts, parents, or others whose views are needed to answer the children’s questions.
- Observational Sketches
Drawings and sketches based on firsthand observations of actual objects or locations under investigation that serve as representations or data related to the topic being studied.
- Phase 1
The first phase of a project that includes coming to agreement on the general topic to be investigated; summarizing, representing, or recording what the children know or think about the topic; revisiting their past experiences related to the topic; formulating the questions to be answered; and making predictions of what the answers might be and where the necessary information can be obtained.
- Phase 2
The period when the children are collecting the data they need to answer the questions developed in Phase 1. It includes site visits, interviewing relevant experts, conducting surveys, distributing questionnaires, and other ways of gathering and representing pertinent data. A variety of media are often used by children to represent and report their growing knowledge and understandings of the topic through art, model making, music, play, and verbal expression.
- Phase 3
The final phase of a project, during which the children and teachers examine and reflect upon what they have found out from their investigation, and plan and conduct reports of the project for others to hear about and examine. A culminating event is often the conclusion of Phase 3.
- Problem Solving
A process of discovering or deducing new relationships among things observed or sensed employed by all people at all levels of maturity. A method involving clearly defining the problem confronted, hypothesizing solutions, and testing of the hypotheses, until evidence warrants rejection or acceptance of the solution. For example, problem solving can include overcoming difficulties that children encounter when creating representations of what they have observed.
An extended, firsthand, in-depth investigation of a topic undertaken by a class, a group of children, or an individual child in an early childhood classroom or at home. Projects involve young children in conducting child-initiated research on phenomena and events worth learning about in their own environments.
- Project Approach
A method of teaching in which an in-depth study of a particular topic is conducted by a child or a group of children. The Project Approach is incorporated into the curriculum but does not always constitute the entire curriculum.
- Project Display and Documentation
A shelf, table, or section of the room where objects, books, and other resources related to the project topic and significant events in their joint investigation are made accessible for children to study. Ideally, the displays reflect the story of the project.
- Project History Book
A book that tells the story of children’s in-depth exploration of the project topic. It often includes a narrative of the project, photos, children’s work, and both children’s and teachers’ reflections. The book may be designed to inform a variety of audiences, including the children themselves.
- Site Visits
Planned visits to sites that can be sources of information to answer the questions guiding the investigation.
- Topic Web
A graphic representation of a topic and related subtopics. A web may be made by a teacher to anticipate what can be learned about the topic and used in planning the project (anticipatory web). A web may also be made in discussion with the children. This web can include what they already know or think about the topic as well as what they want to investigate.
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