A Case Study of the Applied Learning Academy: Reconceptualized Quantum Design of Applied Learning
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The purpose of this qualitative study was to examine the Applied Learning Academy (ALA) and allow the lessons learned from this public school to emerge from the narrative stories of past students, parents, teachers, administrators, and local business associates who have been directly involved and influenced by the applied learning teaching method. Accountability is critical for all public and charter schools. Districts have been trying to raise the standards with new programs and strategies in an effort to make learning experiences relevant to students? daily lives. Revisiting John Dewey?s philosophy from the progressive movement, project-based, service learning, community partnerships, and portfolio assessment helped to create the applied learning method. In the present study, a qualitative case study approach was utilized to identify successful factors, benefits, and drawbacks of applied learning in order to describe the transition of portfolio assessment, project-based learning, and community-based partnerships within the classroom and to understand the impact and misconceptions of applied learning as experienced through the Recognized Campus, ALA, a 6-8th public middle school within a large urban school district. Participant interviews, field observations, and historical records were collected which indicated that student centered project-based curriculum, small school size creating family relationships, community involvement with partnerships, service learning projects, and metacognitive development from portfolio assessments were the major factors that supported academic rigor and relevance because of the real educational applications in this applied learning middle school. Briefly defined, applied learning is when a problem is seen within the surrounding community, and the solution is generated by the students. This progressive 15-year impact of applied learning ultimately leads to the development of four applied learning schools despite the misconception that applied learning was a remedial or gifted program. Redefining applied learning for a better understanding developed a reconceptualized diagram borrowed from the quantum mechanics model. Reconceptualization expands the interpretation by increasing the intellectual flexibility. As the student becomes energized from the acquired knowledge of learning applicable skills through service learning, project-based curriculum, and portfolio assessment, the student?s academic growth should increase to a higher, educational ?energy level? supported by the critical, situated-learning, and feminist theories.
situated learning theory
Gordon, Denise (2009). A Case Study of the Applied Learning Academy: Reconceptualized Quantum Design of Applied Learning. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from
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