Back to top

EDUC 2010: Project-Based Learning in Baton Rouge (2019)

Note: To find specific information fast, please see the Topics on this Page menu in the left margin below.

Course Overview

baton rouge classThis service-learning course is an opportunity for a multi-disciplinary team of students to spend a week in January (Jan. 7-11, 2019) at a special elementary school in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The school has responded to low student test scores in a brave, unusual way: by integrating project-based learning and the arts into its curriculum.

Last year, to help the school build its capacity for project-based learning, the team worked with children in grades 3-5 on filming and basic video production. See sample music videos from the experience.  In 2018 the team worked with fourth- and fifth-graders to write and illustrate short stories and bind them into beautiful books.

You will need to enroll in the 2-credit winter course EDUC 2010 through the Office of Continuing Education. Before the experience in Baton Rouge, the team will meet at Cornell for two weekend seminars, one in November and another in December. These seminars will be scheduled at the group’s mutual convenience.

Course Details

Pre-departure seminars

In Fall 2018, before the experience in Baton Rouge, the team will meet at Cornell for two pre-departure seminars. One will take place in November, the other in December; both will be scheduled at the mutual convenience of all team members, most likely on a Saturday or Sunday.

By participating in videoconferencing with faculty and leadership at the elementary school,we will:

baton rouge class

  • Know the academic and other standards to which elementary school students and their teachers in Baton Rouge are held accountable
  • Know the history, demographics, current student performance data, and rules and protocols for the elementary school
  • Know what academic and social knowledge, skills, and habits have been the focus of students in grades 4 & 5 at the school since the start of the academic year
  • Understand advantages, disadvantages, and challenges of engaging in participant-observation as a method of understanding a context such as a school
  • Be able to, and understand why it’s valuable to, engage in critical reflection during and after a community-engagement experience

Twenty percent (20%) of your grade for the course will be based on your attendance and participation at these seminars and your performance on brief quizzes assessing mastery of the learning outcomes above.

On-site experience

duff with students in auditoriumEach weekday, January 7-11, 2019, the team will work at a Baton Rouge elementary school from 8 am until 3 pm. Each team member will “embed” in one classroom for half the day, providing assistance to that classroom’s teachers. For the other half of each day, team members will work on a project with older students. What project? Prof. Duff and the school are working on that now and will update this website as soon as we finalize the project.

Each weekday evening after dinner, the team will meet for 1 hour. We will use this time to share and organize what we’ve learned, reflect critically, and plan for the next day.

To enhance reflection and keep families and other interested parties informed, each team member will keep a daily blog (structured according to major intellectual and practical goals of the class) on this course website.

By the end of the site visit, we will …

  • Understand the challenges and benefits—for students, education professionals, and schools—of enacting project-based pedagogy (vs. more conventional direct instruction)
  • Be more inclined towards, and skilled at, reading education theory and research with sensitivity to context
  • Be more comfortable with, and skilled at, modeling skills for elementary-age students
  • Be more comfortable with, and skilled at, managing and motivating groups of elementary-age students when they are working on a specific product
  • Understand the daily challenges of school professionals and be more comfortable and skilled at interacting with them

Eighty percent (80%) of your grade for the 2-credit course will be based on on-site performance. Specifically, 50% will be based on participation in weeknight seminars and nightly completion of a blog entry, and 30% will come from evaluations of your professionalism by the classroom teacher whose room you embed in. For each of these components (i.e., participation in seminars, blogs, etc.), you will receive a rubric in advance so that the standards of excellent work are clear.



For the 2-credit course, the tuition is $2920 ($1460/credit).

Funds from Cornell Commitment, OADI, and the Off-Campus Opportunity Fund cannot be used for tuition.

Potential sources to help cover tuition: 

  • scholarship from the Learning Strategies Center
  • grant from your College at Cornell (e.g., Human Ecology has this grant)
  • churches and civic organizations (e.g., Rotary Club, Lion's Club) in your hometown
  • Financial aid (in the form of loans) is available, but this is separate from any aid you might receive during fall and spring semesters. Therefore, you have to apply for aid

Deadline for tuition: Nov. 30, 2018

Program Fee

A non-refundable program fee of $500 covers six nights of lodging, meals, and our rental van in Baton Rouge (not airfare).

The Off-Campus Opportunity Fund can be used to cover this Program Fee. It provides access to several travel-grant applications, including one sponsored by Engaged Cornell and another sponsored by OADI. Decisions are made on a rolling basis, with a final application deadline of October 10, 2018.

If you need information about the course in order to complete the Off-Campus Opportunity Fund application, please contact Prof. Duff.

Deadline for non-refundable program fee: Nov. 19, 2018

Transportation to and from Louisiana

You must arrange your own transportation. Please plan to arrive at the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (airport code MSY) no later than 2 pm on Sunday, January 6, and depart after 10 am on Saturday, January 12.

If you fly, your airfare will vary depending on where you are coming from. Average round-trip fare is about $350.

The Off-Campus Opportunity Fund can be used to cover airfare. Decisions are made on a rolling basis, with a final application deadline of October 10, 2018.

If you need information about the course in order to complete the Off-Campus Opportunity Fund application, please contact Prof. Duff.

Deadline for transportation (airfare): For travel to MSY, you will make your own arrangements. In general, you will find better airfares if you look and book early.

Steps to enroll

  1. Contact Prof. Duff to see if there is still room in the course.
  2. If there is room, Prof. Duff will schedule an interview with you.
  3. If you need or want financial support, please re-read the Costs section carefully, especially the section on Tuition. Apply ASAP to the Off-Campus Opportunity Fund.
  4. Visit the Winter Session website for instructions on how to enroll through the School of Continuing Education.