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In a project based learning environment, students work on a project for a certain period from a week to a semester. The project engages them in solving a real-world problem or answering a specific question. They demonstrate their knowledge and skills by creating a public product or presentation for a real audience.

As a result, students develop in-depth content knowledge and critical thinking, collaboration, creativity, and communication skills. Project-Based Learning unleashes contagious, creative energy among students and teachers.

To put it another way, Project-Based Learning is a teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period to investigate and respond to an authentic, engaging, and tricky question, problem, or challenge.

While PBL is often associated with just doing a project, there is a clear difference between the two approaches.

PBL is becoming widely used in schools and other educational settings, with different varieties being practiced. However, there are key characteristics that differentiate doing a project from engaging in rigorous Project Based Learning.

To aid the process of distinguishing between a project purse and PBL is as such: A project is a short, intellectually-light project served up after the teacher covers a unit’s content—in which the project is the unit. In Project Based Learning, the project is the vehicle for teaching the critical knowledge and skills students need to learn. The project contains and frames curriculum and instruction.

In contrast to dessert projects, PBL requires critical thinking, problem-solving, collaboration, and various communication forms. To answer a driving question and create high-quality work, students need to do much more than remember information. They need to use higher-order thinking skills and learn to work as a team.

The striking truth here would be that we live in a project-based world; we learn through interaction and level up in the society based on our skills, business, knowledge, and experiences. The same follows in education, corporate and socially.

Although definitions and project parameters may vary from school to school, and PBL is sometimes used interchangeably with experiential learning or discovery learning, project-based learning characteristics are clear and constant.

According to the buck institute of education, PBL focuses the student on a big open-ended question, challenge, or problem to research and respond to and or solve. It brings what students should academically know, understand, and be able to do into the equation.

The process Is inquiry-based to enhance the interrogative skills. PBL uses 21st-century skills such as critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity, among others.

Builds student choice into the process and Provides opportunities for feedback and revision of the plan and the project.

Requires students to present their problems, research process, methods, and results

Here is an example where all the elements come together in a high school setting. Teams of students propose and design a product based upon a challenging need or intricate problem. These young entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to business and community leaders to gain support for launching their product.

One team of students designed a computer app providing real-time air quality readings at locations around the world. Raising awareness about air pollution, supporting health-conscious travelers, and making global connections were galvanizing real-world provocations for their project.

It’s worth noting that while project-based Learning may seem like some specific or isolated instructional practice, the lists above should look familiar. They are the elements of great learning experiences. You don’t have to subscribe to project-based Learning to incorporate aspects of it in your classrooms.

Having that said, there are benefits that real project-based Learning provides.

It connects students to the real world

In many instances, traditional learning methods never venture beyond the realm of the classroom. Project-based Learning connects students to the real world. PBL prepares students to accept and meet challenges in the real world, mirroring what professionals do every day.

Instead of short-term memorization strategies, project-based Learning provides students with an opportunity to engage deeply with the target content, bringing about a focus on long-term retention. PBL also improves student attitudes toward education, thanks to its ability to keep students engaged. The PBL structure lends itself to building intrinsic motivation because it centers student learning around an essential central question or problem and a meaningful outcome.

It helps students develop. Because of its focus on 21st-century skills, the PBL model also enhances students’ technology abilities. Jennifer Gonzalez noted how project-based Learning helps students develop teamwork and problem-solving skills, along with the ability to communicate effectively with others. The collaborative nature of projects also reinforces the social-emotional learning programs being implemented at progressive schools worldwide.

These interpersonal aspects of PBL dovetail perfectly with the use of technology in the classroom. Technology-based projects are interdisciplinary, collaborative, inquiry-based, self-directed, motivating, and address the full range of student needs and learning styles, according to Christa Love of TechnoKids. Additionally, digital literacies and digital citizenship objectives become ingrained in tech-based projects.

The process of PBL, while offering exceptional value it comes with its challenges. For many instructors, PBL is a stark contrast to the traditional education they experienced. Change takes time and is seldom without apprehension and challenges. I loved incorporating PBL in the classroom, and I did it every chance that I got. The kids really loved it as well.

However, when we consider the types of educational experiences we value for our modern learners, it becomes apparent the traditional sage on the stage instructional model falls significantly short.

Although, you can overcome these PBL challenges. Good problems or ideas can come from your students, parents, or community members. Instead of lectures and book learning, teachers can think through the steps required to solve a problem and use those steps as project-learning activities.

Instead of planning a massive project, the learning process can be made more manageable by chunking the project into smaller parts, with frequent checkpoints built into the timeline. Instead of a traditional summative exam, authentic assessments can be developed by communicating with professionals in the field regarding what a presentation would look like related to a particular project.

One of the biggest misconceptions regarding project-based Learning is that schools that implement it fail to cover core subject material for particular courses. And to some extent, yes, many PBL-based schools do sacrifice core traditional content coverage so that students can spend time engaging in applied, investigative Learning.

But the sacrifice is worth it. Study after study shows that passively learning content in a rote manner no longer proves sufficient to prepare students for success in today’s world, especially now that subject content is accessible via one quick click on the web; however, research shows that PBL helps equip students to troubleshoot in the real world, and will help develop fundamental skills “for living in a knowledge-based, highly technological society.

While most would agree that the way we access information changes our educational landscape, some still question whether PBL will adequately test students.

PBL is indeed the antithesis to standardized testing, but that is because PBL classrooms support scaffolding and aim for students to reach different levels of mastery for each project they undertake. As project work is typically presented to an audience consisting of community members, including local experts who may have contributed to their Learning, students become stakeholders in their achievement. They are self-motivated to produce products of meaning.

Another misconception of PBL is that teachers will not adequately cover content or actually teach. But that simply is not true. Teachers may not be standing in the front of the classroom but instead circulate around the room monitoring and adjusting as necessary.

Teachers serve as an active participant rather than the sole instructor, teachers who practice project-based Learning continually rotate around the classroom, offering constructive advice as students lead their investigations and Learning.

With fluid and ever-changing project content, educators become the most critical resource to the student. The educator must help all students develop a reliable research question, oversee design-cycle thinking, guide students toward relevant physical and digital resources, provide critical and constructive feedback, and assess students’ mastery in building skills and understanding complex content. In presenting, students become teachers themselves. The adage, Tell me, and I forget. Teach me, and I remember. Involve me, and I learn, is pretty much PBL philosophy in a nutshell. The teacher becomes a conductor of sorts, directing, inspiring, involving, and fostering self-learners for the future.

Unlike their grandparents, your child’s chances of holding the same job at the same company for their entire adult life are practically nil, and uncertainty and change are the only predictable factors of the future.

Irrespective of the direction technology leads us, futurists and neuroscientists believe that a student’s need to memorize core content will be futile because of Artificial intelligence (AI). Instead, the top skillsets for the future require agency, adaptability, problem-solving, teamwork, and communication are all prominent features of PBL. Educational technology is another integral part of PBL, and this integration allows students to work with the same tools of the future. At the same time, digital access sets the stage for cross-cultural examination and communication.

One area in which PBL students possess a competitive edge in the college application process over traditional applicants lies in their digital portfolios’ inherent strength. With the focus of Learning centered around completing projects, graduates of schools that practice PBL leave equipped with a robust portfolio of real-world products documenting their ability to face significant challenges and come up with big solutions. The conclusions of these projects showcase the student’s ability to solve real-world problems. The experience of presenting their results in front of their peers and experts will prove invaluable during the interview process are both excellent skills for any student to possess as they transition into the world of secondary education.

So, are universities on board with all of this? PBL is making headway in universities as more and more are realizing that… it merely works. The bitter truth is that international universities are dissimilar in their admissions requirements, and traditional exams, SAT, ACT, IB, AP, are still typically required for entrance. Some parents question whether universities will be relevant for their child in the future, while others believe AI will take over teaching altogether. Regardless, if you can’t beat it, meet it. Most PBL schools still offer exam and external program support to accommodate students whose aim is to attend one of the universities mentioned earlier with more stringent admissions requirements.

If the idea is still unclear, let us talk about some of the most notable benefits of PBL for the students.

Number 1: The first one is the scope of work

The first and foremost reason to go project-based Learning is that it enables educators, teachers, and students to learn and adopt structures around projects rather than having lecture-based Learning and reading-writing assignments of the traditional class room learning. Students learn to comprehend the project’s entire scope and put the execution into a structure under their teacher’s or supervisors’ guidance.

Number 2: Real-World Problem Simulation

Project-based Learning focuses on enabling the student to face real-world situations simulated in the forms of the projects. Students learn while doing what they know and develop new Learning around hobbies, passions, and careers. They often create new hobbies, desires, and a liking for new jobs.

Number 3: Improves The Interpersonal Skills Of A Student

It significantly impacts the development of the interpersonal skills of the students. Projects given often are more complex than in the assignments given in traditional classroom-based learning. Students need to structure their efforts in organizing their survey required for the projects, analyze the survey results, and prepare reports to reach markets and collaborates with sponsors of the projects. In the entire approach or different stages of the project, they improve their communication skills to collaborate with various stakeholders.

Number 4: Concept And Creativity Development

Project-based Learning develops a greater depth of understanding of the concepts than in traditional classroom-based Learning and results in improved student creativity levels. Real-world situations given in the project are more capable of drawing students’ attention and capturing their interest to provoke the needed level of thinking to apply new knowledge in a problem-solving context.

Number 5: Determines The Actual Knowledge

Project-based Learning determines the students’ in-depth knowledge and experience and sometimes of teachers compared to the fixed length of the learning experience of traditional classroom-based learning. In project-based learning, the student develops their skills and knowledge while classed-based Learning has a shorter span of memorizing based expertise derived from a rote approach.

Number 6: Choice Of Selecting Real-World Problems

Another great reason to go for project-based Learning is that projects are chosen by the students or assigned by the teachers according to the students’ interests. Students are presented to select based on their interest in choosing a real-world problem presented in the project. Interest-based selection of projects gives students unique ways of solving different issues, which are diverse even in the same class. Traditional classroom-based Learning has question/answer-based essays and exam writing, including assignments given to all class students.

Number 7: New Style Assessment Of Students’ Skills

Teachers can assess students’ capabilities to observe, survey, and investigate, then allocate the projects determining the activities and events based on their interest. Students find themselves capable of honing their observation and analyzing skills. Teachers can directly assess the development of these skills among their students when they perform the project work activities.

Number 8: Visits To Field-Sites Of Real World Problems

A significant feature of project-based Learning is field-site visits by the students, teachers, and other involved researchers and educators as needed in the project executions, which open new ways of learning and collaborating with stakeholders and new people.

Number 9: Direct Demonstration Of The Capability

Teachers get more fantastic opportunity to assess their students’ capabilities demonstrated in performing activities and events organized in the projects than essays and exams of the traditional classroom learning based on rote learning and memorization to writing what teachers have taught as their fixed and pre-determination of the topic or subject.

Number 10: Technology Inclusion

Project-based learning is an effective way of including technology in the learning laboratories of the education system. According to their interest, projects selected by students are now likely to involve computers and the internet, as well as interactive whiteboards, GPS devices, and cameras.

Number 11: Tracking Of Progress

In project-based learning, teachers and students both can track their activities involved in the project given to the student to solve real world problems. In traditional classroom-based Learning, this is ever missing, as not required or non-existing mechanism in the structure.

Number 12: End-To-End Problem-Solving Skills

In project-based learning, students undergo various stages of problem-solving through the project’s structure, including multiple steps like project scoping, work planning, activity performing and tracking, and managing uncertainties presented during the project’s problem-solving activities presentation of the project, and closure. Students have opportunities to develop observation, survey, research, reporting, production, communication, and collaboration with people involved, team building, and leadership in the end-to-end problem-solving approach of project-based learning.

In Conclusion

To PBL or not to PBL? is it worth the risk? Giving a project to students is better nowadays, rather than making them sit in a class and become bored. PBL makes children learn independently, giving them a better understanding of the topic. This way, students will learn to take initiative on their own and know more about their chosen subjects.

Gaining knowledge should be fun and exciting, where children should engage themselves in a world of facts.

Steve Hiles

I am a retired military and elementary school teacher living in Tennessee. I am an avid reader and love to write. I am very passionate about helping teachers. I hope you find my educational tips and strategies useful,and enjoy hearing about my personal journey.



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Steve Hiles

I am a retired military and elementary school teacher living in Tennessee. I am an avid reader and love to write. I am very passionate about helping teachers. I hope you find my educational tips and strategies useful and enjoy hearing about my personal journey. Thanks for visiting!

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