Project Based Education: The Way Students LearnBy
Excellent project-based teaching engages students in meaningful and relevant learning. Students in project-based environments are motivated and involved learners. Teachers use guided inquiry and a transdisciplinary approach to nurture in-depth learning. They focus students’ work and deepen their learning by centering on significant issues, concepts, questions and problems. A project-based approach helps students learn important content, develop intellectual capacities and acquire essential skills, from calculating to collaborating.
The project-based approach to teaching creates for students the need and desire to learn essential content and skills. Project-based learning begins with a vision for a product that requires learning specific knowledge, skills and concepts, thus creating a context and rationale to study the information and ideas. Learning content across disciplines creates context for students, which results in a much higher level of understanding than that attained through traditional teaching of subject areas in isolation.
Project-based learning necessitates inquiry to discover or construct new knowledge and understanding. Inquiry demands that students explore new ideas, consider options, solve problems and share what they have learned. They must work collaboratively and use critical thinking and problem solving skills. Students need to do much more than remember information—they need to construct knowledge, develop understanding and solve complex problems wile working together in a team. Students must listen to each other, articulate their own ideas and present projects effectively.
One of the many advantages of project-based learning is that students have a voice and choice. Students become skilled at working independently and assume responsibility for their work when they have the opportunity to make choices. Another benefit is the process of feedback and revision, in which students critique each others’ work. In the end, students present their results publicly. The process of preparing and delivering a project presentation in and of itself is a significant learning experience for students.
In summary, projects contain and frame the curriculum. The content of projects typically includes several disciplines and multiple skills. Students gain a deep understanding of the concepts that are central to the project. They develop critical skills in a variety of skill areas according to the nature of the project. Projects also foster and an enduring love for learning. They can encourage students to address global and local issues, explore interests and build on strengths, interact with adults in various professions, use educational technology, and present their work to audiences beyond the classroom. Project-based learning usually motivates all students and almost always has a life-changing impact on students who might otherwise find school boring or meaningless.