Date of Award

Spring 4-11-2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Douglas Devore, Ed.D.

Second Advisor

Lisbeth Johnson, Ed.D.

Third Advisor

Tim McCarty, Ed.D.


Purpose: The purpose of this qualitative case study was to explore and describe collegiate PBL high school student graduates’ perceptions of their preparedness for their first year of college and the impact of how the BIE’s eight essential components of PBL (Larmer & Mergendoller, 2015b) contributed to their first year of college preparedness. A secondary purpose was to explore and describe the alignment of the students’ perceptions of the impact of how the BIE’s eight project-based components (Larmer & Mergendoller, 2015b) contributed to their first year of college preparedness as defined by Conley’s (2012) college readiness indicators.

Methodology: This study was a qualitative case study, which focused on students in PBL programs and their perceptions of their own collegiate preparedness as a result. The study explored a bounded case of PBL at High Tech High (HTH), a network of 13 schools located in San Diego County, California.

Findings: The participants in PBL perceived their college preparedness as strong in terms of communication, self-awareness, collaborative learning, and English skills. However, students in this study showed evidence of being unsatisfied with their preparation in terms of adjusting to the instructional style of collegiate programs as well as the pace and rigor of collegiate coursework. They also voiced that they felt unprepared for the math instruction in college.

Conclusions: The current study determined that PBL instruction encourages communication, self-awareness, and collaboration among students. This study also identified that the eight-component model of PBL has a positive impact on the college preparedness, particularly as it is defined by Conley (2012). Yet it also identified gaps in a student’s college preparation as a result of participating in a PBL high school education, namely in math instruction and the differences in instructional styles of a PBL program and college.

Recommendations: This researcher recommends that a study of the effectiveness of PBL in college preparedness be done with a much larger sample to determine if the results of this current study would be confirmed by a larger sample. A comparison study between the perceptions of college preparation of students from a traditional school with those who have gone to a PBL institution should also be conducted. There is also a need of observational studies that compare PBL programs nationwide to determine the scope of variation within PBL programs.