It’s not a brand-new concept. It’s been around since before formal education was normalized. This concept, called project-based learning, is simply a method of learning that heavily depends on problem-solving and innovating through practical application. Let’s understand this better.
What is project-based learning?
The project-based learning model is the method of learning and grasping new knowledge through practical and project-based methods. Further, it’s known to help learners acquire deeper knowledge through active exploration of real-world challenges and problems.
While textbooks give you the foundations, real-world experiences give you the wings to fly and discover what you want to be. The conventional learning paradigm has a one-way flow of pre-prepared information. On the contrary, project-based learning or problem-based learning lets you discover interests and passions via a whole new world of innovation and creativity.
Examples of project-based learning activities include creating volcanos, monuments, or even solar systems for school projects. Finding solutions to environmental issues, pitching an innovative business idea are also some examples. Now that we know what it is, let’s dive into understanding how PBL helps young learners like yourself in the long run.
Advantages of project-based learning
Focuses on critical thinking and problem-solving
Project-based learning is essentially an inquiry-based method of learning that relies on solving problems through projects assigned to learners. In the long run, it enables you to view things critically in order to arrive at a solution that works. These skills go a long way in making you confident, job-ready and equipped for the future.
Builds Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTs)
Lower Order Thinking Skills or LOTs include remembering, recalling, understanding, and applying. On the other hand, skills such as analyzing, evaluating, synthesizing, and creating are categorized as HOTs. When broken down, HOTs include everything from creativity, sense of inquiry, problem-solving, teamwork, and so many more skills. Moreover, these skills play a big role in shaping your future as they enable you to find your expression in the world and are better equipped to overcome challenges.
Accommodates a variety of learning styles
Every learner prefers a style of learning that suits them best. Project-based learning takes this very fact into account and allows you to work to your own advantage or capabilities. How? While project-based learning gives you a problem to solve or a project to complete, the method by which you choose to arrive at the end is entirely up to you. You can work to your strengths and build more specific interests over time.
Promotes independent learning and creativity
The ability to learn independently and test one’s creative boundaries is a skill often credited to this learning method (PBL). In this method, you are given the opportunity and tools to think out of the box and arrive at unconventional solutions to real-world problems presented before you. This not only sets you apart from the crowd but helps boost your confidence too.
Encourages self-determined and self-directed learning
Through projects, you are given the canvas to explore and solve real-world challenges that require critical thinking. Something as simple as designing a marketing campaign for a sneaker launch can build a lifelong love for communication, maybe designing or even creative writing! It not only helps you build a deeper understanding of a concept but also encourages self-directed and self-determined learning. This, in turn, gives you all the necessary tools to understand your innate strengths and interests.
Challenges your limits
Real-world experiences teach learners skills such as resilience, divergent thinking, and perseverance. In the real world, you as a learner, get to express your unique opinions, approaches, and ideas. When you work on projects, there are no boundaries to expressing creativity. To take it further, it even allows you to push your limits and come up with 50 different solutions to a single problem, which then leads to innovation!
Makes learning fun
A very important factor to take into consideration is that often young learners struggle to grasp complex theories, lose interest quickly, and can’t quite put 2 and 2 together. By following a project-based learning model, you get to find your unique ways to obtain the same knowledge. Projects become intrinsically fun, engaging, and interesting. This definitely contributes in removing the intimidation that traditional learning methods often come with.
At this point, you must have asked yourself this question at least once: Are there any downsides to this method? Let’s take a look.
Disadvantages of project-based learning
Requires time for research and implementation
Since project-based learning does not follow the rules of traditional learning, it can sometimes be hard to put a timeline to it. Learners should be given sufficient time to explore their ideas and creativity before arriving at a solution.
Poses challenges for educators
In order to incorporate a project-based learning model into the curriculum, instructors have to drastically shift their teaching methodologies. They must find a means of assessing a student’s performance and take into consideration factors such as tasks completed, overall work, manner of arriving at a solution, communication among fellow students and team members, etc. Especially since it does not follow traditional assessment guidelines.
What are some project-based learning activities?
Here are some great starter project-based learning activities that learners can try at home:
- Script your own TED talk: Find a subject or topic that a learner would love to talk about and draft a script around it. Doing so will help them find their voice, express themselves and communicate about the things they’re passionate about.
- Make an infographic: Pick a topic the learner has researched previously and ask them to concise their knowledge into an infographic.
- Create a photo essay: Pictures are an extremely impactful method for learners to grasp and retain information. Task them with creating a photo essay of a topic they find challenging.
In fact, you can find more exciting project-based learning activities and challenges on the Uable app, right here.
Is project-based learning effective?
We’ve read about the pros and cons but is project-based learning really that effective? The answer is subjective. Because the method of teaching and learning is both dependent on the teacher and learner respectively, the outcome may vary for all. Some learners thrive with a project-based learning model, where practical implementation of knowledge plays a key role. Keep in mind that every learner is different and what works for one may not work for the other.
That said, problems-based learning or project-based learning is a great way to become an industry-fit professional and a resilient individual. A cycle of reflection and creation enables learners to identify their strengths and improve their skills. Just as one cannot learn cycling until they sit on a cycle, merely knowing a domain doesn’t add any value until you start exploring it.
Here on the Uable app, learners can start by exploring and then deep diving into fields that interest them and start creating micro-projects to test their affinity. In the long run, these challenges will help groom them not just for a job or career, but for the big, big world beyond!