Questions You Need to Ask While Implementing Project Based Learning
August 28th, 2017
Educators have long been advocating the need to promote qualities such as leadership skills, empathy, teamwork, universal acceptance, etc. among students. Many education researchers have indicated the importance of incorporating a ‘problem-solving attitude’ from early years at schooling. This need inspired the concept of Project Based Learning (PrBL). PrBL requires educators to understand a few critical aspects while planning an implementation of a PrBL classroom.
Here’s how teachers can prepare themselves and their class before implementing PrBL:
- What is your objective for conducting a particular Project Based Learning activity?
A teacher must have a clear understanding of the learning outcomes he/she is expecting out of a PrBL activity. Map out your end-goals with some fundamental questions before beginning a project. Questions such as, what are the students supposed to have learned at the end of the project? What skills is the activity supposed to instill in them? The objective can also be to train students on how to effectively work in teams if they’ve never participated in a PrBL activity. Once you have your goals in place, it’s important to discuss the goals with a brainstorming session.
Clarifying objectives not only helps the teacher in preparing a project, but it also makes it easier to streamline the process for the students. For example, digital tools such as MindNode and SimpleMind+ allow teachers to map out the entire brainstorming process. You can easily share your concept maps with students and other teachers via cloud sharing.
- Do you have the right resources to conduct the project?
After deciding on the learning outcomes, the next step is to assess resource availability. PrBL activities are often unpredictable as students have a free reign over how to accomplish their objective. To do that they might require extra resources, such as chart papers, white boards, art & craft supplies, reference books, office supplies, etc. As a facilitator, it’s important for teachers to keep these resources handy and readily available.
For example, asking students to test purity levels of water from different sources would require resources such as containers, access to different sources of water, beakers, chlorine strips, pH strips, materials to present their results on, etc. Thus, it’s important to analyze project requirements before assigning any task.
- Is this PrBL project helping students get ready for the real-world in any way?
PrBL activities encourage teamwork and can be designed to achieve multiple learning outcomes from a single activity. The advantage of working in teams lies in creative problem-solving through pooled intelligence. In simple terms, more minds working towards an issue would generate more ideas and in-turn a better chance of having the most appropriate solution for the project.
PrBL prepares today’s learners for the real world by encouraging critical-thinking where a clear-cut answer or set method wouldn’t work. Students have to actively participate in discussing possible solutions with their peers, exchange their thoughts on shared ideas, agree upon a suitable approach and finally carry out the project. They can analyze their strengths and weaknesses after completion and possible areas of improvement. This repeats every time they undertake a project.
- Can you create an assessment in line with the project?
It’s usually advised to end a PrBL session with an assessment that would act as a platform for both teachers and learners to evaluate the project. For this reason, it’s important to frame an activity that can be assessed. Activities should be designed in a way such that key aspects, like subject coverage, factual accuracy, observation skills, etc., can be recorded. These assessments also need to include evaluation of relevant skills, such as presentation, collaboration, critical thinking, and effective communication, that learners require to compete in the real-world. These assessments could be in the form of questionnaires to assess subject clarity and to potentially get an understanding for constructing future activities based on their performance in the assessment. Platforms like Snapshot by Edmodo and MagicBoxTM allow teachers to create assessments, track progress and provide feedback in real time.