and forces) or designing and modeling an erosion control system (to learn about the earth’s ground processes).
Although the design challenge creates an authentic need for learning the targeted science content and skills, Kolodner emphasized that design challenges are not required in order to support the learning of complex skills. She said she is currently applying the overall approach, in collaboration with others, to develop middle school science curriculum units as part of the Project-Based Inquiry Science project.2
Kolodner outlined several learning goals targeted in the LBD curriculum. First, the team hoped to develop students’ knowledge and skills in design, including understanding a project design challenge, planning and managing time, aiming for shared solutions with understanding, developing specifications and criteria, managing trade-offs, understanding and working with real-world constraints, and gaining experience in the iterative process of design. Second, the curriculum was designed to develop knowledge and skills in science practices, including identifying what needs to be investigated and carrying out an investigation well. One of the science practices targeted for development is informed decision making, which includes reporting on and justifying conclusions and judging the trustworthiness of experimental results in order to use evidence appropriately to inform decisions. In addition, the LBD curriculum aims to help students learn to develop and articulate scientific explanations.
Kolodner said that enhancing learners’ collaboration skills is another important goal of the LBD curriculum. Components of this broad goal include supporting the development of teamwork, collaboration across teams, and giving credit to individuals and teams. Finally, the curriculum aims to develop science content knowledge consistent with middle school objectives. Kolodner explained that the curriculum was originally developed with a focus on technology education, but it was revised to place greater emphasis on science content knowledge, in order to align with state and national science standards.
The LBD curriculum is based on a constructivist model of learning called case-based reasoning (Kolodner, 1993; Schank, 1982, 1999), which suggests several principles for promoting learning of complex skills, such as the five 21st century skills. First, the model suggests that learning is