Co-Design: A Democratic Approach to Project-Based Learning
This study describes what happened when Bobby Shaddox and his teaching partner, Allie Wong, designed a project with their team of 56 sixth grade students at High Tech Middle School in San Diego, California. They extended an approach pioneered by James Beane to a project-based learning environment and established a classroom community based on democratic values and decision-making. As they shared control in the classroom and empowered students to pursue their questions, they saw an increase in the students’ sense of independent inquiry, the spirit of collaboration and content mastery. These findings indicate that inviting students into the design of their learning can be a way to achieve deeper engagement, significant learning and prepare students to play active roles in a democratic society.