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Is Project-Based Learning Taking Over the Classroom

Education is moving at a revved-up speed. It has no choice, as instruction in classrooms must change if it’s going to keep pace with how the world is evolving. The Buck Institute for Education found that project-based learning enhanced students’ motivation to learn, raised their academic achievement, and built deep content understanding.

Project-based learning allows students to learn new skills such as:

  • How to solve challenging problems
  • Developing effective collaboration skills
  • Expressing themselves and ideas in new ways

Overview of Project-Based Learning

Project-based learning is a method of teaching whereby a teacher uses complicated real-world issues to teach students principles and concepts instead of presenting students with facts. Project-based learning immerses students in the material rather than traditional instruction.

Project-based learning places emphasis on learning by doing; for example:

  1. Students focus on a significant problem and work to find a solution
  2. Students ask questions, then design and execute experiments. After conducting their experiments, they collect and analyze data.
  3. Students find or settle for a solution to their problem; they then communicate their ideas to their teacher and fellow students.

Although project-based learning offers a more expansive way to educate students, at present, only about 1% of schools have succeeded in implementing project-based learning. That’s because there are specific challenges to implementing it, and as a result, many schools simply give up on project-based learning.

Advantages of Project-Based Learning in the Classroom

When project-based learning is implemented effectively, teachers and students will see growth. The following are a few advantages of project-based learning:

  • Students develop skills for the workplace, such as collaboration.
  • Students improve their academic work.
  • Students develop self-discipline.
  • Students have a sense of heightened self-motivation.

Challenges in Teaching Project-Based Learning

Not every project-based learning strategy is effective, and it may take time to explore what works and what does not, just like the actual idea behind project-based learning. The following challenges are some of the most common when teaching project-based learning:

  • Teachers fail or give up too often; there is a learning curve to cultivating the correct projects for your department and students.
  • Teaching motivation is complex; students will find any excuse to slack off in and out of class.
  • Teachers and students may struggle to develop a new teacher/student dynamic.
  • Students who work in groups find that one or two people take over the project, leaving others out of the learning process. At the same time, a team may work well and effectively with one or two stragglers weighing the project down. 

How to Achieve Better Teamwork

When it comes to improving teamwork for students, you need to consider your class’s age. If you are teaching young students, most will participate equally. But if you teach older students, you may find a split in the willingness to work. 

As the teacher, you need to foster an environment where everyone respects each others opinions and beliefs. Encourage making mistakes and taking risks in education exploration. When students push themselves, they may find a new skill set or area of interest. 

Project-Based Learning Teamwork Requirements

  • Every member of the group is heard and appreciated for their unique perspective and efforts.
  • Every member of the group contributes approximately the same amount of effort and work. 
  • If the exchange of information is to be effective, students must communicate face-to-face or via video conferencing so they have the opportunity to read and interpret nonverbal cues.

Final Thoughts

As educators, we need to be well versed in project-based learning. With the evolution of education, lectures and presentations do little to teach students effectively. Teachers need to learn how to create project-based lessons, create groups, and foster an environment of learning. If you are completely lost as to where to start, seek out your school’s science department; their labs are the ideal setting to observe project-based learning. 

Project-based learning has a long way to go if it is to take over our classrooms. Project-based learning is a desirable educational objective for every school to pursue. It puts what students are learning in alignment with the modern-day workplace and interpersonal skills needed in life.

It will take a focused initiative to start project-based learning; teachers will need the support of school boards, administrators, and fellow teachers to see the positive results of project-based learning. Last but not least, you need your students to accept the new way of learning. This may take some convincing, but when project-based learning is successful, students are well prepared as they leave our classrooms. 

Written by Ellie Hudovernik
Education World Contributor
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