A case study of possibilities and constraints in conducting project-based learning in a lower secondary social studies classroom in Karachi, Pakistan

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Education (M. Ed.)


Institute for Educational Development, Karachi


Project-based learning (PBL) is a teaching and learning strategy, which is gaining popularity rapidly among educators, teachers, parents and students. PBL is not a new concept: it is a well-established teaching strategy in certain parts of the world, but in some it is either alien or newly introduced. This study was conducted in one of the schools in the context of Karachi, Pakistan, which has adopted project-based learning as an initiative towards school improvement. In this context, PBL is practiced in all subject areas and has been in place for the last four years. The purpose of this study was to examine factors which facilitate or hinder the process of conducting project-based learning in a Social Studies classroom. The rationale behind this study was to get insights on how to conduct PBL in other schools as an initiative for school reform and change. To do so, the qualitative case study paradigm was employed for an in-depth investigation of the case as well as to understand the process. Data collection methods such as interviews, observations, and document analysis were used. Findings of the study disclosed that PBL in this particular context was primarily the school management's initiative. And this had consequences for its adoption process. PBL has brought tremendous changes in the school culture by engaging all the stakeholders (Director of the system, principal, vice-principal, teachers, students and parents). Findings suggest that PBL has played an important role in turning the school into a learning community. Nonetheless, factors like a prescribed syllabus and public examinations have greatly shaped the nature of PBL in this context. The findings also indicate that successful implementation of PBL is largely dependent on a thorough understanding of a teacher about the nature and expected outcomes of PBL. Finally, it is realized that students should be included in the planning of PBL activities and given some level of autonomy in the choice of topics, as this would enhance their feelings of ownership and responsibility over their learning. The study recommends that PBL can be successfully conducted and sustained in any school if the stakeholders believe in its importance and benefits. It is also important that the teachers should have a sound understanding of the concept of PBL.

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