Embedding project-based learning in the school curriculum

Dicey Tech

Challenge

Dicey Tech is an ed-tech company on a mission to make education exciting and relevant for the future of work by empowering students to design, code, and make solutions to real challenges. 

Project-based learning is a highly engaging and effective method for young students to solve problems, create technology, while learning and building skills. However, realising this opportunity requires the ability to map out projects in relation to the national curriculum and GCSE specifications within the English education system, skills, knowledge, and competencies, at scale. 

 
Research team 
  • Omar Elsayed, PhD in Business Management, University of Liverpool, Management School
  • Mark Innes, Professional Doctorate in Education (EdD), Manchester Institute of Education, The University of Manchester
  • Hugh Johnson, PhD Educational Research, Lancaster University
  • Moosa Yousuf, PhD Macroeconomics and Finance, Salford Business School, University of Salford 
 
Solution

The Research Team developed a new mapping framework and a digital tool to enable Dicey Tech to assign relevant curricular items and occupational standards to their design projects. The new tool is now also available for teachers and students to help them search and identify apposite projects based on subjects or careers of interest. To do so, the Team followed an action research approach including:

  • a scoping literature review;
  • analysis of Dicey Tech products;
  • identification and collation of relevant subject curricular for schools in England, and national occupational standards;
  • production of a new curricular mapping tool prototype;
  • feedback collection by interviewing educational professionals in regards to the prototype;
  • analysis of the findings as part of a final report.
Impact

The research found that there exist significant barriers to implementing project-based learning in schools due to teachers lack of time, training and confidence. The developed digital mapping tool helps Dicey tech address some of those adoption barriers. The report details specific insights and recommendations regarding the relevance of the mapping exercise to Key Stage 3 students, but not to Key Stage 4, due to the diversified and unstandardised nature of exam boards.

The developed tool will help reduce teachers͛’ workload and optimising curriculum planning whilst using Dicey tech projects thanks to the tool mapping projects against National Curriculum programmes of study. The tool also helps students to search and identify relevant projects to build their skills and thus to navigate towards their desired career paths.

The collaboration was a fruitful one for the the partner and the researchers, now planning further collaborations around curricular expertise and technical development. 

 

What participants are saying

My team and I enjoyed everything about the programme. The initial welcome and brainstorming session was a brilliant start, allowing us to meet the team and start discussing ideas and potential solutions. Finally, the outcome fully met our expectations. We would definitely recommend the programme to other partners.

Alex Alexandrescu
Dicey Tech CEO

The project gave me a priceless opportunity to explore new gamification avenues, which is my main research interest, whilst working with Dicey Tech͛s game-based projects. I also benefitted from developing an interesting mapping tool that introduced me to the peculiarities of the national curricular items and detailed employability standards. I got to work with an incredible team that had all the right/complementing skills and magic harmony as if we were hand-picked just for this project.

Omar Elsayed
University Of Liverpool

This project was founded by the Economic and Social Research Council, in collaboration with the North West Consortium Doctoral Training Partnership and the School of Arts, Languages and Cultures at the University of Manchester, as part of the Collaboration Labs programme.