Project-based learning encourages students to apply the knowledge and skills they have learned in the classroom to solving real-life problems. PBL engages students with experiences that offer better contextual understanding of how to comprehend a problem, work through potential solutions, and perhaps, most importantly, learn how to collaborate with a team to identify these solutions. Market research supports the need for students to develop these skills during the middle school years to enhance their college and career readiness.
Characteristics of Project-Based Learning
Problems are rarely solved by applying information or skills from a single subject area; therefore, PBL requires students to rely on content and knowledge they acquired from many different disciplines to successfully complete a project. Solving problems using PBL promotes students to understand how different subject matters work together during the inquiry, solution building and product construction phases.
Similar to the reasons above, project-based learning does not only require the recall or recognition of information, but rather the full application of this knowledge to a problem. PBL requires the much more complex application of academic content to perhaps problems outside of the learned content. Thus, this inquiry process leads to a much deeper learning of the academic content as well as how it integrates with other content that may yield a solution, or not yield a solution – requiring further analysis and inquiry.
The role of the teacher changes from content-deliverer to project manager or facilitator when providing project based learning. Students are required to work more independently or in a group setting while the teacher provides support and guidance as needed. This encourages students to make their own decisions on how to do their work; thus, better demonstrates each student’s comprehension of the content and its application.
Why Project-Based Learning?
Research supports that there is an increase in student engagement and achievement through project-based learning as well as helping students develop the 21st-century skills they need to succeed in future careers.