Project based learning

Project-based Learning: Its Meaning, Benefits And Impediments

Project-based learning is an alternative teaching method inside and outside the classroom that improves collaboration, autonomy and creativity. It allows the students to engage in the teaching process with much more enthusiasm. In simple terms, the project-based learning definition is that PBL is a teaching style in which students develop information and skills by investigating and responding to an authentic, interesting, and difficult question, problem, or challenge over an extended period of time. However, like every teaching methodology, PBL also comes with its own set of benefits and challenges. This article explores the meaning and characteristics of PBL. Further, it also examines its benefits and challenges.

What Is Project-based Learning?

Talking about what is project-based learning, it is a teaching and learning approach and framework in which students acquire content knowledge and abilities in order to respond to a driving question based on a real-world issue, need, problem, or concern. Project-based learning is done in groups and cooperatively, with the use of a variety of employability skills, such as critical thinking, communication, and creativity. It encourages student participation and choice as well as inquiry. Authentic PBL requires a community partner and a publicly displayed product. A continuous process of reflection is also a part of it. 

Designing an app, geocaching, student farming and bridge building are just a few great project-based learning examples. If educators are looking for more engaging project-based learning ideas, they can have students design a garden that meets specific design objectives, then plant and care for the garden, start a recycling program that addresses a problem with existing recycling programs, or assist a local business in improving environmental sustainability.

Characteristics Of Project-based Learning

The three most important characteristics of project-based learning activities that lead to deeper student comprehension are outlined below:

a) Student-centered

Here, the teacher’s role is more of a co-learner who engages in the growth and development of the student by providing them the freedom to experiment. Hence, this allows the student to demonstrate their capabilities while working independently.

b) Multi-disciplinary

Real world challenges can be difficult to solve when looked at from a single perspective. In PBL, projects require students to gather knowledge from multiple academic domains, which helps in understanding the root problem.

c) Collaborative Environment 

The last characteristic of project-based learning is a collaborative atmosphere. PBL is an ideal approach to foster teamwork and collaboration. Undoubtedly, at first, students may often find it difficult to reach a common ground with cross functional teams, but eliminating these differences is one of the great outcomes that PBL can provide. 

Benefits Of Project-Based Learning

The advantages of using PBL as a teaching method are numerous and varied. The following are a few of the project-based learning benefits. 

1. Continuous Learning Benefits

Students can face endless problems while working on a project, but only constant practice and learning can help them solve these problems. Similar to real-life situations where uncertainty is inevitable, PBL helps in shaping the students to face reality with much more confidence.

A student can learn all the knowledge from a subject, but eventually what matters is how he or she implements this knowledge. PBL allows the students to take control of the situation, which advances them on the path to become a lifelong learner.

2. Supports Different Learning Styles

Each and every student has different skills and competences. As mentioned earlier, project-based learning gives the freedom to experiment and requires a lot of application. In addition, it allows students the flexibility to use their individual learning styles to solve a problem.

Benefits of PBL, Challenges of PBL, Characteristics of PBL, What is Project-based learning, Teaching Methodology

3. Student Assessment

While the traditional way of checking performance is through exams, it is not always the best way. Exams can help judge the knowledge of students, but they may not alone be effective in retaining it. PBL requires students to not only retain information but also apply it and see how relevant it is in a real-life setting. 

PBL allows educators to perform assessments by helping in the growth of the student. This leads to solid feedback which helps them to improve skills and, most of all, remain engaged in the classroom.

4. Develop Real Life Skills

Another significant feature of project-based learning is that it requires good communication skills. It allows a student to solve an open-ended problem in many different ways. This approach helps in building various skills, such as critical skills, communication skills, and problem solving skills. Therefore, the four walls of a classroom do not limit these abilities. In fact, learners can apply them in various school subjects and even in real-life situations to solve problems.

5. Encourage Intrinsic Rewards

Last on the list of project-based learning benefits is encouragement of intrinsic rewards. The rewards attached to project-based learning are much greater than just getting an A on the test. Students achieve self-respect and satisfaction by performing a real-world problem, such as solving a riddle, presenting a business idea, and creating innovative solutions.

Benefits of PBL, Challenges of PBL, Characteristics of PBL, What is Project-based learning, Teaching Methodology

Problem-based Learning v/s Project-based Learning

Problem-based learning is a student-centered teaching pedagogy that dates back to the 1960s. Students learn about a topic through solving questions, and they usually collaborate in groups to solve problems when there isn’t always a single perfect answer. In a nutshell, it gives students the ability to conduct research, combine theory and practice, and use knowledge and abilities to create a feasible solution to a problem. Problem-based learning differs from project-based learning in that students who complete problem-based learning often share their results with the teacher and work together to set learning goals and outcomes. 

Project-based learning, on the other hand, is a method in which the objectives are predetermined. It is also quite regimented in terms of how the lessons are delivered. Problem-based learning is more likely to be a single subject and shorter, whereas project-based learning is more likely to be multidisciplinary and longer. Problem-based learning follows particular processes while project-based learning follows generic steps. Project-based learning frequently contains realistic assignments that solve real-world problems, whereas problem-based learning employs scenarios and situations that are possibly less relevant to real life.

Challenges Of Project-based Learning 

Student unpreparedness can act as a barrier in the success of PBL. Thus, it is one among the many challenges of project-based learning. Some students may struggle to grasp the concepts and identify the problem on their own, which can make them feel disengaged. However, continuous monitoring and providing additional resources can help eliminate these challenges of project-based learning.

While PBL has the ability to transform the education sector, one must keep certain limitations in mind. The amount of time consumed to plan and deliver is often a problem in PBL. Only schools and teachers with the ability to understand the deep waters of this system can do full justice to this teaching pedagogy. Therefore, in order to make PBL successful, some points need to be noted, such as monitoring tasks, the quality of those tasks, collaboration, teamwork, and benchmarks. Although this can be a time-consuming task, the outcome is sure to be fruitful in the long run.

Image Sources: Shutterstock and Unsplash 

Also Read: Adult Learning Theory: Its Need And Impact

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