Project-Based Learning

Okay, let’s be honest. How many times did you find yourself zoning out in the classroom thinking about weekend plans or how to avoid the famous “head bobbing”, trying not to doze off to sleep while your teacher talked about pond water molecules? If you didn’t mentally raise your hand, nobody likes a liar.

Stanford Graduate School of Education – Stanford University

Stand Up Kids
provides a very realistic study of standing vs. sitting. “The average U.S. student is sitting at school an average of 4.5 hours a day”, not including sitting at breakfast, lunch, dinner, the bus, in front of the TV, and even sitting more at home doing homework! To me, learning is engaging cognitive abilities to their full potential, while exploring personal growth and experience.

Project-Based Learning is a simple solution to get students’ creativity pumping, and increasing the opportunity for interaction, the ability to work with others, and exploration of resources. Edutopia suggests that PBL involves:

  • Students learning knowledge to tackle realistic problemsas they would be solved in the real world
  • Increased student controlover his or her learning
  • Teachers serving as coaches and facilitatorsof inquiry and reflection
  • Students (usually, but not always) working in pairs or groups

(Barron & Darling-Hammond, 2008Thomas, 2000)

A classroom that encourages PBL looks a lot like this: 

Students are typically solving highly complex problems leading them to become managers of their own learning process, with the guidance of a teacher. With PBL, it lets educators have multiple opportunities for assessment. Students who demonstrate and apply content knowledge are essentially exhibiting a check point for understanding. PBL allows a student’s ability to apply desired skills such as exploring their strengths or enhancing them. ­­­Having said that, it enables a teacher to learn more about each student, and classroom management. Individual, group, or partner-based projects can also help a teacher understand the atmosphere of classroom management with PBL.

With such a broad style of teaching, it gives teachers a lot of room to work with in incorporating PBL in a classroom. Giving students the ability to use their personal learning process opens the door for many advantages:

  • Students who partake in project based learning for classrooms often develop a greater ability to organize and research.
  • Students are evaluated based on their projects and presentations, rather than tests and exams.
  • Students can develop their communication skills and effectively listen and pass information along to the group they work so closely with – a skill that is essential as an adult in the real world.
  • Students are encouraged to facilitate a constructive investigation of a problem in which they are fully engaged in the learning project.
  • Rubrics can allow teachers to evaluate the students based on the curriculum/common core.
  • Develop transferrable skills
  • students are encouraged to become not just passive learners and note-takers, but rather critical thinkers who are highly capable of solving real-life problems that they are likely to encounter as they grow and mature into adulthood.

(PBL SuperStore)

Possible disadvantages:

  • Potentially have poor test-taking skills.
  • Student/teacher unpreparedness and/or disorganization.
  • Time-consuming assessment.
  • Possibility of getting off track.

With advantages and disadvantages listed above, it’s very clear to have a healthy balance of PBL in a classroom. Test-taking skills are important for standardized tests and for future education, so it is needed that students regularly practice test-taking procedures. Furthermore, with so many strong advantages for PBL, it is also equally important to incorporate this style of teaching/learning as it is test-taking, to encourage creativity and student interaction!


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