Project-based learning (PBL or PjBL) is a teaching tool that can be incorporated in classroom practices as an alternative to traditional teacher centered learning methods. It is a method, which allows students to acquire skills thought as necessary for the 21st century while changing the role of the teacher from being an ‘information giver’ to a facilitator.
What is project-based learning?
As the name suggest, it is a learning method based on classroom projects derived from complex questions, problems, issues, or challenges. It requires ‘student centered learning’ and collaboration to solve the problem or the question at hand, and students will get the opportunity to apply what they derived from such learning into actual practice.
The projects should derive from problems, which enable a student to grasp central concepts and principles while sharpening their problem solving, decision making, investigative skills, and reflective practices.
The activities related to project-based learning should be less structured than traditional learning activities while it requires the students to organize their own content, time and collaborations in order to achieve the final goal. At the same time, projects will enhance the students perception regarding learning, what is being learnt and the awareness regarding what takes place at a particular time.
What are the benefits through practicing project-based learning?
Although there are arguments against implementation of project-based learning for every subject learnt in the classroom, it is considered an effective teaching-learning strategy for many classroom activities.
One of the outcomes expected of project-based learning is to make the student collaborate with their own group as well as with other parties relevant to what is being learnt. Thus, it requires the student to develop communication skills, negotiation skills, skills to seek information as well as to take responsibility towards his or her own learning as well as for the group’s performance. The students will develop self-confidence, as they feel wanted and will get the opportunity to express themselves to their peers as well as to the teachers, whom will only play the role of a facilitator. Such learning would be vital to become a successful team player in an actual working environment in their adulthood.
Another important element surfacing through project-based learning would be to develop problem-solving skills and to be practical. The challenges and the problems given to students will necessitate them to engage in constructive dialog in order to solve and once they define the path towards solving the issue, they will try to apply the same in a practical manner. Although they may encounter failures or pit-falls, what is important would be the fundamental learning that they acquire during the collaborative activities.
By practicing project-based learning, it is possible for a student to develop the skill to be a lifelong learner, which will be the key to their success in future. Learning through inquiry and being receptive to feedback are some of the other qualities that can be inculcated in the student who undertakes such projects during their classroom studies.
Ultimately, the outcome of a project would be a product or a presentation, which will be open for public scrutiny. This will invariably make students feel confident in facing problems and issues as well as to take on challenges without being hesitant. At times, projects will allow the students to go beyond their usual classroom audience, which may be impossible to achieve through traditional classroom teaching.
Apart from the above benefits gained through practice of project-based learning, students will also gain exposure to community issues, to explore careers, make use of technology as well as to interact with adult mentors, which will prepare them to meet up with any career challenge encountered in the future.
Buck Institute for Education (2009). PBL Starter Kit: To-the-Point Advice, Tools and Tips for Your First Project