This discussion explores Project Based Learning?
Project Based Learning occurs when students go through an extended process of inquiry in response to a complex question, problem, or challenge. Rigorous projects help students learn key academic content and practice 21st Century Skills (such as collaboration, communication & critical thinking) (What is PBL?, n.d.).
One of the key differences between Project Based Learning and Problem Based Learning is that during Project Based Learning, the student has control of what the subject will be about and what kind of information will be relevant to the project. The learning is more student centered and allows for students to create their own paths to learning and problem solving. Problem based learning occurs when an educator provides a generalized idea for all students to research. All students are given the same idea. Students are able to work in small sided groups or partners in order to develop solutions to the main idea(s) or problem (Problem-Based Learning and Project-Based Learning, n.d.)
Teachers should consider incorporating PBL in their classroom because it is a dynamic approach to teaching in which students explore real world problems and solutions (What is Project Based Learning?, n.d.). PBL also provides a format for implementing several very powerful instructional principles, including differentiating instruction, scaffolding instruction, and facilitating socially constructed knowledge.
PBL can provide a safe environment for differentiated instruction. Since every student is different — has different background knowledge, forms and degrees of intelligence, learning styles, interests, goals, and motivation — teaching all students at the same level and in the same way and maintaining the same expectations, and using the same reinforcement structures for all students makes little sense (Why Use Project-based Learning, n.d.). PBL allows educators to use differentiated instruction in order to match the level of backround knowledge and reading proficiency, all which influence the motivation and success of a student and their learning.
PBL can provide a safe environment for scaffolding instruction. External support can reflect a three stage process as support shifts from initial teacher mediation, to peer-mediation, and eventually to student self-mediation (Why Use Project-based Learning, n.d.). The learning process can appropriately shift from WE can do it, YOU ALL can do it and finally YOU can do it.
During the WE can do it process, the teacher and the students co-construct the project. The teacher acts as an expert member of the project-development team, and performs essential tasks with students, providing just enough modeling, structure and guidance to allow other team members to actively participate in performing the tasks (Why Use Project-based Learning, n.d.).
During the YOU ALL can do it process, teams composed of student peers work together to develop the project. Support and guidance comes from each other. The teacher is largely removed from performing any of the tasks, but may provide occasional prompts, cues, or feedback as needed or when invited by the team to do so. These prompts rarely are “directive” (i.e., “You should do this…”); rather, they are “reflective” and usually come in the form of questions designed to prompt student-reflection (i.e., “What might be another way of doing that?”) (Why Use Project-based Learning, n.d.).
During the YOU can do it process, students perform project work largely independently. They are responsible for self-mediating their investigation. Peers can be used as consultants and for feedback on an “as-needed” basis (Why Use Project-based Learning, n.d.).
PBL also allows for facilitating socially constructed knowledge. Students develop understandings of reality out of their experiences, feelings, and information as they assimilate or accommodate personal knowledge and experiences with new information acquired. This process can be greatly enhanced via social interaction. A number of powerful learning-enhancing activities occur, such as exchanging information, opinions and interests, elaborating on the ideas of others, challenging other’s perspectives on a topic, collaborating to organize, confirm, and consolidate, extend or apply findings (Why Use Project-based Learning, n.d.).
Neverthelss, there are essential components to PBL. The essential components of a PBL approach to instruction are divided into two categories, significant content and 21st century skills. Essential components of PBL are:
- is intended to teach significant content. Goals for student learning are explicitly derived from content standards and key concepts at the heart of academic disciplines (What is PBL?, n.d.)
- requires critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, and various forms of communication. 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. They must listen to others and make their own ideas clear when speaking, be able to read a variety of material, write or otherwise express themselves in various modes, and make effective presentations. These skills, competencies and habits of mind are often known as “21st century skills,” because they are prerequisite for success in the 21st century workplace (What is PBL?, n.d.)
- requires inquiry as part of the process of learning and creating something new. Students ask questions, search for answers, and arrive at conclusions, leading them to construct something new: an idea, an interpretation, or a product (What is PBL?, n.d.)
- is organized around an open-ended Driving Question. This focuses students’ work and deepens their learning by framing important issues, debates, challenges or problems (What is PBL?, n.d.)
- creates a need to know essential content and skills.Project Based Learning reverses the order in which information and concepts are traditionally presented. A typical unit with a “project” add-on begins by presenting students with knowledge and concepts and then, once gained, giving students the opportunity to apply them. Project Based Learning begins with the vision of an end product or presentation. This creates a context and reason to learn and understand the information and concepts (What is PBL?, n.d.)
- allows some degree of student voice and choice. Students learn to work independently and take responsibility when they are asked to make choices. The opportunity to make choices, and to express their learning in their own voice, also helps to increase students’ educational engagement (What is PBL?, n.d.)
- includes processes for revision and reflection. Students learn to give and receive feedback in order to improve the quality of the products they create, and are asked to think about what and how they are learning (What is PBL?, n.d.)
- involves a public audience. Students present their work to other people, beyond their classmates and teacher – in person or online. This “ups the stakes,” increasing students’motivation to do high-quality work, and adds to the authenticity of the project (What is PBL?, n.d.)
Nevertheless, PBL is a powerful and meaningful tool that when implemented with a thoughtful purpose allows for students and educators to learn, grow and develop their understanding of real world concepts and ideas.
n.d. Problem-Based Learning and Project-Based Learning. Improving Mathematics Education . 6/12/13. From http://pages.uoregon.edu/moursund/Math/pbl.htm.
n.d. What is PBL? Project Based Learning for the 21st Century . Retrieved 6/12/13. From http://www.bie.org/about/what_is_pbl/.
n.d. What is Project Based Learning? Project Based Learning . Retrieved 6/12/13. From http://www.edutopia.org/project-based-learning.
n.d. Why Use Project-based Learning. Calhoun.K-12 . Retrieved 6/12/13. From http://www.calhoun.k12.al.us/makes%20sense/Adobe%20Reader/DO%20NOT%20OPEN%20program%20files/Instruction/Designing%20Lessons/ACTIVITIES/PBLS/Why%20use%20PBL.pdf.