Exploring Collaborative Design in a PK-12 Creative Writing Challenge
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This study explored how PK-12 participants in the CSTEM Creative Writing Challenge engaged in a collaborative design project to produce a creative non-fiction pop-up book. As both collaboration and creativity are recognized as invaluable skillsets for success in the competitive 21st century economy, they served to focus the inquiry into this constructivist project-based learning (PBL) experience. Using ethnographic methods, this exploratory study wove narratives of student participant experiences and incorporated a variety of data, including product quality ratings derived from a rubric, student-created reflective videos, and a focus group interview. In addition to the researcher, the data were examined by two peer debriefers and one external auditor to ensure trustworthiness. The resulting naturalistic inquiry may provide transferability of a potential framework for PK-12 teachers who wish to engage in similar collaborative design experiences with their own students. The cognitive benefits (including process and multiple literacies) and psychosocial benefits (including altruism and life lessons) that these students voiced throughout their reflection provided a testament to constructivism and experiential learning. Statistical investigation showed that ratings of the pop-up book product did not parallel ratings of the process; however, this study maintained that presenting students with the opportunity to engage in inquiry-based video making of their PBL experience allowed students to authentically and formally address the life lessons they developed.