Date Approved


Graduate Degree Type


Degree Name

Education-Literacy Studies: Reading (M.Ed.)

Degree Program

College of Education

First Advisor

Elizabeth Petroelje Stolle

Academic Year



The nation’s lack of student achievement on standardized tests is a result of the insufficient number of opportunities a student has to interact with their environment. Research indicates racial and economic disparities limit the number of chances these groups have to build the wide range of background knowledge needed to support the academic demands in the classroom. As a result, their performances show a widening of the achievement gap. Therefore, this project speaks to perspectives centered around constructivism as a way to explain how students acquire knowledge over time. The author contends that reading diverse texts, writing for different purposes, collaborating through conversations, and interacting with nature encourages the construction of knowledge and deepens student understanding. Implementing student-centered educational experiences in the form of a project-based learning unit is likely to create opportunities for student engagement and a narrowing of the achievement gap for our most disadvantaged students.