Introduction to Project Based Learning

What comes to your mind when you hear the word “Project-based learning”? Learning through doing, right? Well, yes you are partially correct. PBL or Project Based Learning is way more than that though as it involves a teaching method where children solve real-life problems within the stipulated time. This encourages engagement in the children and the lessons become more meaningful when the child is actively involved. 

Children showcase natural curiosity and are inherently investigative by nature. If you spin an intriguing, authentic and engaging real-world problem, they are bound to give in to their intrinsic individualism and you will be rewarded with focused attention. That is one big part of your job as one of the biggest worries with the new-age world today is the lack of attention span and focus on detail. 

PBL empowers students to develop patience and sustenance as well as these projects can take up anywhere between a week to an entire semester to solve an issue. This is rewarded with a demonstration of their project’s outcome in front of a live audience who will definitely laud the outcome and the efforts put in by the students with some help from their educators. 

Experiences have always given way to knowledge. PBL has been known to help promote content skills and knowledge in depth. These create strong bonds with peers and fulfilling relationships with mentors as it tends to unleash the four Cs within the students.

  • Creative Energy: Creative energies when synergised strengthen interpersonal relationships and lend credibility to open-mindedness.
  • Critical Thinking: Creative thinking skills have the ability to look at a problem from several perspectives, using tried and tested methods to reveal a multitude of new possibilities. 
  • Collaboration: Working together, the students can come up with useful, practical solutions even if rather unusual which is leading the way for new-age ideas and consequent methodology.
  • Communication: This plays an important role in generating new ideas and ways of working together and is a very crucial skill to develop and hone and this is obtained from learning activities together. 

The difference between Project-based learning and “Doing a Project”

There are various kinds of learning that are now being used widely in educational settings. Schools have always practiced simpler forms of project-based learning keeping them to a bare minimum because they hadn’t gained the popularity that it has in recent years. While there are grey areas in the terminology “Project-based Learning” for parents, by and large, it is imperative that one understands the key characteristics that make PBL different from doing projects at school. PBL is a rigorous way of learning by doing projects rather than solving them through textbook knowledge only. Students need to distinguish between knowledge and skills and PBL is known to be the vehicle for teaching that. 

PROJECT BASED LEARNING IDEAS

Intrinsically, the parameters, definitions and methods of PBL may vary from school to school, but the essence remains the same more or less. Interchangeable with “Experience learning” or “ Discovery learning”, the fundamentals are the same in PBL. Essentially, there are seven unique models to follow this method.

  • Open-ended questions – Posing a problem or a challenge for the students and making them solve it with a big emphasis on focus, research and responsiveness.
  • Academics – Interweaving textbook knowledge so that the subject matter is known, understood, and a student is able to do it academically.
  • Curiosity – Generating questions and making the students use their thinking skills to seek answers, coupled with inquiry-based learning which triggers elemental inquisitiveness.
  • 21st Century skills – Critical thinking, collaboration, creativity and communication.
  • Alternate Processes – Understanding the students’ choices and trying to fit in processes that keep them interested.
  • Feedback – As in real-life scenarios, students are given a chance at revising their outcomes with the right constructive criticism. Also, providing opportunities to scrutinise and revamp the project at hand gives students various skill sets as well as an opportunity to put on the critical thinking capabilities to use repeatedly.
  • Peer review – Just as in real-world projects, students are given opportunities to pose their problems, research methods and results in front of others which has been recorded to be a confidence-building tool. 

THE PBL OBJECTIVES

  • Combination of knowledge and skills from diverse fields through complicated reviews and several regimental projects.
  • Self-governed learning is determined through self-reliant research of unregulated roadblocks. 
  • Partnerships and teamwork, help formulate students to be in a social environment.
  • Self-assessments and self-appraisals, inspire students to see ahead of their own intellectual judgment and expertise.

PROJECT BASED LEARNING PROGRAMS

Project Based Learning ProgramsEach project is looked at minutely and in convergence with the student mix and their interests, behaviours and attention levels to bring about the maximum result. There are many different types of programs and curriculums that PBL follows. At the beginning of the semester, the educator sets the goals that they need to target, focus on and achieve cumulatively. Changes that concentrate on growth, however small they may be, but well-orchestrated are made and these bring about a flurry of change in the classroom in the correct manner.

PBL can be implemented in various ways in the classroom based on the varied subjects in the curriculum. Tapas, a progressive educational institution, and a project based learning provider in Bangalore has a teaching framework that involves the students in real-world situations with a learning curve. This brings about a real intrigue and deeper knowledge and understanding of concepts through experiences that are relevant and authentic. 

Some examples are:

  • PBL in Environmental Science: This is done in various ways such as visiting a zoo to see the animals in their natural habitat or fostering an animal and providing for it collectively. Collaboration and research are the big themes here which start with teamwork and end with presentations.
  • PBL in the English Language: Learning language in action is the theme here where the students are encouraged to ask various questions and also to read one book that has prominence and relevance to their age group. Not only is vocabulary and grammar focussed on, but other aspects of language acquisition are looked at. So, this approach benefits the students as they are made to write their own persuasive texts as well as apply the knowledge of the language in real-time scenarios. This speeds up the acquisition of the language. 
  • PBL in Maths: The inquisitive nature of children is used to its full potential with them using strategies such as coding for a real-life example situation which can be decoding a certain important document that has numbers and can potentially be dangerous to a given situation if not solved within a timeframe. Or comparisons to real life with geometry using angles, sums and diagrams making learning not only theoretical but practical and absolutely necessary. Professionals from different fields that can bring in new angles to the subject are also brought in.

Conclusion

At Tapas progressive educational institution, Preethi, one of the founders, elaborates on how they want to bring about a change using a traditional curriculum but new methods of teaching that are hands-on and informative in a practical manner. 

They have designed the premises keeping every single detail in mind as to where they can conduct what different subjects as the change of classroom also is a change in energy which is suitable for learning. Project-based learning is the way the new-age world is going and every child should benefit from it.

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