Can PBL be effective for Advanced Placement Courses?

If you teach an AP course, you know all about the concern of covering content! The end goal that all AP teachers push their students toward is receiving a score of a 4 or 5 on the AP exam in May. Thus, content heavy lessons become the daily focus of the course. Unfortunately, this often leads students to merely memorize the information, rather than to truly learn the information.

Having taught AP U.S. Government for the last eight years of my fourteen-year teaching career, I understand the desire to “push” through the content. I know all about the demands of the College Board. In fact, I would argue that most high school AP courses are much more demanding than the dual enrollment courses that many students opt to take at local colleges. I am also the first to admit that for the first few years of my AP teaching experience, I merely “covered” content. However, I can’t guarantee that my first classes of AP students truly learned the content.