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Project based learning is a constructivist pedagogy that intends to bring about deep learning by allowing learners to use an inquiry based approach to engage with issues and questions that are rich, real and relevant to their lives. Project based learning is designed to be used for complex issues that require students to investigate in order to understand. It is not useful to use PBL for easy to learn factual information. For example, students may be asked to monitor the water quality in a local river to learn about their local environment and environmental issues that affect it.
It is an approach for classroom activity that emphasizes learning activities that are long-term, interdisciplinary and student-centered. This approach is generally less structured than traditional, teacher-led classroom activities; in a project-based class, students often must organize their own work and manage their own time. Within the project based learning framework students collaborate, working together to make sense of what is going on. Project-based instruction differs from inquiry-based activity by its emphasis on collaborative learning. Additionally, project-based instruction differs from traditional inquiry by its emphasis on students' own artifact construction to represent what is being learned.
Project based learning (PBL) is more than just a web-quest or internet research task. Within the project, students are expected to use technology in meaningful ways to help them investigate or present their learning. When used effectively, research has shown PBL helps teachers create a high-performing classroom in which teachers and students form a powerful learning community. The aim is for real-life context and technology to meet and achieve outcomes in the curriculum through an inquiry based approach. A PBL approach is designed to encourage students to become independent workers, critical thinkers, and lifelong learners. Many teachers and researches involved in PBL believe it makes school more meaningful as it provides in-depth investigations of real-world topics and significant issues worthy of each individual child's attention and investigation.
A related pedagogic approach, problem-based learning is similar; however, problem-based approaches structure students' activities more by asking them to solve specific (open-ended) problems rather than relying on students to come up with their own problems in the course of completing a project.
Summary: Elements of a good project based learning experience -
- A fertile question or issue that is rich, real and relevant to the students lives
- Real world use of technology
- Student directed learning
- Long term (more than 3 weeks
- Artifact / presentation / action as a result of the inquiry