‘Project Based Learning- Facilitating permanent and authentic Learning across all age-groups.’
Education today is beyond the traditional setting where students memorize and pass a test. Schools today can be more effective by making children do what matters in the real world and this is achievable through Project Based Learning.
In real life, we alllive in a world of projects whether it is completing a job assignment, purchasing a house or planning a house-warming. All of these need a problem- solving ability. By aligning students on a project, teachers direct them to a path that deepens their understanding and helps build skills they will need for the future. PBL involves asking lots of questions and right at the onset, the learners carve out a list of things that intrigue them. To make the project work for the best advantage of the students, a teacher must thereafter give them liberty to ask questions, provide resources to conduct research to seek those answers, facilitate collaboration, create an environment where learners give each-other feedback, and take onus of figuring out the best way to make their points clear.
In the project method of teaching, the teacher is only a guide and the activities carried out in the class are carried out by the students themselves. This helps improve self-reliance and self-responsibility among students. It helps students learn on their own and develop their own style of learning.
There are several project-based learning examples for elementary schools such as helping others, cleaning the environment, eating healthy, writing letters, recycling materials or using water. While for elder age-groups, projects help students not only to accomplish creating something or solving a problem but also simultaneouslyhelp themimbibe life-skills. For instance, an interesting project for students could be working together to create a mural. They will work to conceptualize the mural, design it, plan it, and then paint it. Art projects are an incredible way to provide opportunities for students to express their creativity and work together as a team. So, while the mural gets created, each learner also learns cooperation, team-work and resilience.
As a pedagogical approach, PBL entails starting with a ‘Driving Question’ and then designing a plan for the project. The teacher guides the children to create a schedule and a timeline. Both the teacher and the students monitor the progress of the project identifying and meeting challenges. At this juncture open ended conversations among the students in terms of what has been learnt is a great idea as this widens the scope of learning for each learner. Finally, students should be encouraged to evaluate the entire experience through self-assessments and peer-assessments.
The strength of PBL is that it provides learners with a motivational source to drive their learning and discovery. In a classroom, PBL promotes meaningful collaboration by instilling interpersonal values and skills they need, facilitates deeper engagement, develops communication, fosters creativity and perseverance and is a great deal of fun!
Interestingly, in an age where our first instinct is to seek any answer on google, Project based learning offers an approach of learning which is the other way around. Onemight argue that seeking answers on google gives conceptual information and therefore builds knowledge of concepts, solving the purpose as a child is still conducting research. However, it is crucial to view the fact that while doing this a child is scanning information and not thinking critically. While with PBL, students are often asked questions which are not google-able, helping them think critically, form opinions and challenge information by digging deep and developing higher order thinking skills.
With Project based Learning, there are no rights and wrongs, advantages or disadvantages and yet the learning is permanent. PBL is more demanding on students and teachers, but it is also more rewarding.