The Buffet Effect: 4 Strategies To Encourage Smart Student Choice in PBL

In addition to the role I have as a teacher and all the perks that come with it, every year I get to take a large group of my students on their class trip to Washington D.C. During this trip they get to visit iconic spots like the Capitol Building, The Washington Monument, and of course Golden Corral, a chain of all you can eat buffets. This may seem like nothing special, but to kids from Northern California who are raised on organic, small-portioned everything, an all-you-can-eat buffet is an awe-inspiring experience akin to gazing out across the National Mall from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

I’ve noticed that every year when my students first enter the restaurant, many of them do not eat anything for the first twenty minutes. They are so overwhelmed by the volume of choices available that they stare, awe-struck, at the seemingly endless options and then usually just select what their friends choose only to discover it’s not what they wanted.