How Project Based Learning Units are Changing the Way Our Students Are Taught
Many educational instructors firmly believe that what once worked in the classroom a decade ago – or longer – doesn’t necessarily have the same effect on the learning environment in today’s classroom. Times have changed, and researchers are finding the contemporary educational institutions and students require something added to the classroom in order to make their educational experience more relevant to today’s world.
Why Should Things Change?
Students should no longer be required to only take notes and memorize a certain amount of information provided during a learning session. Such almost ‘mindless’ learning doesn’t necessarily prepare them for post-graduation responsibilities, nor does it adequately prepare them for real-world work and situations. This is why project based learning is used more frequently as a resource for teaching our kids valuable information and lessons, as well as to help better prepare them for life after high school as functioning adults in a work environment.
Although project based and problem based learning has been around since the time of Aristotle, modern project based learning came about in the 1960’s by a team of colleagues in medical school at McMaster University. These colleagues were observing how frustrated medical students were during their first few years of study, and how they really weren’t engaged in their work. In order to change the usual method of learning, project based learning was introduced to help these students become much more interested, engaged, and involved in their projects.
Students involved in project based learning were placed in small groups where their collaborative and team efforts require them to come up with a solution to the problem they were assigned. This type of platform provided students with the opportunity to work cooperatively as a team, practice their critical thinking skills, and essentially become problem solvers.
These valuable skills are vital in the real world.
Students in elementary and secondary schools can also benefit greatly with PBL in the classroom in many ways, including developing:
- High-level communication skills
- Information retrieval skills
- Idea generation – Imagination – Brain Storming
- Critical thinking skills
- The ability to apply new information
- The ability to use information gathered to arrive at a solution to the problem
- Collaboration skills
- Presentation experience
How Teachers Are Affected by PBL
For teachers, no longer are they simply dictators of information to the students, but facilitators and guides. No longer are they simply standing in front of the classroom hoping that at least some of the students are paying attention. With the advent of project based learning units, teachers take on a role as mentors and facilitators, which allows them to suggest resources, direct progress and watch progress. As teachers see their students become more engaged and interested in their work, their jobs become that much more rewarding.
For teachers interested in learning more about project based learning, they can visit the PBL Superstore and learn more about the history, benefits and results. PBL is also ideal for homeschooled students. Since preparing, testing and grading projects can be overwhelming; teachers may want to access ready-made units that they can implement into their classroom right away. The PBL Superstore has ready to download projects for grades K-10. Research shows that introducing project based learning sparks engagement in students, and many schools have now made PBL a core part of the curriculum.