The Value of Project Based Learning: Motivation and Self Regulation in Students with Learning Disabilities

Date of Award

Summer 7-31-2020

Document Type

Project (696 or 796 registration)

Degree Name

Master of Science in Special Education


Graduate Studies

Committee Chair

Ximena Suarez-Sousa


Learning disabilities, COVID-19, Project based learning, Motivation, Self regulation, Special education


The purpose of this study was to consider the impact that project-based learning (PBL) had on elementary students with learning disabilities motivation and self regulation. A combination of eight total students in second, third, and fourth grades with specific learning disabilities (SLD) would have participated in the study. During a control period, instruction would have consisted of teacher-led lessons and worksheets. During an action period, instruction would have consisted of student driven project-based learning (PBL). My study was going to specifically look for insight into the motivation and self regulation of students with learning disabilities. Data would have been collected using student surveys and observation notes. However, in mid-March Minnesota schools were closed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instruction was provided to students using distance learning. As a result, project based learning was not able to be implemented. A journal recording the experiences of an elementary special education teacher during distance learning was kept. The contents were analyzed and five common themes emerged; instructional considerations, family communication, special education, collaboration and student engagement. Suggestions for future educators called to teach during a crisis of this magnitude include focusing on building relationships with families, connecting with students to provide emotional support and academic instruction, and allowing instructional practices to shift from original plans.

Abstract only: No full text available.