Implementing Project-Based Learning in the Classroom<br />By: Kelly Hughes<br />Touro University<br />In Partial Fulfillme...
Lit review 3
Lit review 3
Lit review 3
Lit review 3
Lit review 3
Lit review 3
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Lit review 3

  1. 1. Implementing Project-Based Learning in the Classroom<br />By: Kelly Hughes<br />Touro University<br />In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements for EDU 710B<br />Abstract<br />This paper examines the benefits of implementing Project-Based Learning (PBL) in the classroom. These benefits include greater student understanding of topics, higher-level reading, and an increased motivation to learn. PBL is a key strategy in creating independent thinkers and learners, and, due to the key element of student choice, lends itself nicely to differentiation amongst student interest and abilities. Research supports PBL as an effective method to engage students in real-world tasks. It demonstrates to students how what they are learning in the classroom is applicable to their lives outside of the classroom. Research on PBL also indicates that students who are engaged in project-based learning perform better on standardized tests than their traditionally educated peers. <br />What is Project-Based Learning?<br />Project-based learning (PBL) is an innovative way to help children relate what they learn in school to their lives outside of the classroom. Unlike traditional learning, PBL is a student-driven, teacher-facilitated approach to learning. Through project-based learning, students drive their own learning through inquiry, as well as work collaboratively to research and create projects that reflect their knowledge (Bell, 2010). Students select an area of interest and work collaboratively to research the topic, using as many different types of information as possible. Using a competent model and a specific audience, they then create a real-world product to share what they have learned (Diffily, 2002). Rather than being prescribed by textbooks, the content and the processes of learning in PBL are connected to the world outside of the classroom. Textbooks aren’t completely abandoned, but rather serve only as one resource for students in facilitating their learning. PBL should not be looked at as a supplementary activity to support learning, but rather the basis of curriculum since most PBL encompasses all of the main subjects including reading, writing, mathematics, science, and social studies. As a result, the outcome of PBL is greater understanding of a topic, deeper learning, higher-level reading, and increased motivation to learn (Bell, 2010). <br />Role of Teacher and Student in Project-Based Learning<br />In Project based learning (PBL) the role of the teacher and student are reversed. Teachers give up the role of a “dispenser of knowledge” and “answerer of all questions”. Instead, they serve as mentors, models, and facilitators to the students in their classes (Diffily, 2002). Teachers who implement PBL in their classrooms still remain “in charge”, they just use different teaching strategies than more traditional teachers. Teachers implementing PBL use questioning strategies with all of their students. Instead of directly answering a student’s question, a project teacher might respond, I wonder how you might find the answer to that question? Or if you’ve already checked the books in the room, what else could you do to find the answer? (Diffily, 2002). <br />The role of students in a project-based classroom is also different than most traditional classrooms. Students assume the decision making role about their learning instead of just following the directives of the teacher. Students work with their teacher to select a topic for their project, and plan the activities and share their learning. Throughout the course of a project, students might take part in various different activities such as researching through books, magazines, or Internet sites to find answers for their questions, interviewing people who they feel are experts on the topic, plan field trips, or any other number of activities. All of these decisions are made under the guidance and support of their teacher (Diffily, 2002). <br />Differentiation in Project-Based Learning<br />The basis of project-based learning is “choice”. Students are able to choose the direction in which they would like to take their projects. They become the decision makers in their own learning under the guidance of their teacher. This type of differentiation allows students to develop their own interests and pursue deeper learning (Bell, 2010). Since students are working individually, or sometimes in small groups in a PBL classroom, they use resources that are appropriate to their individual reading levels, and compatible with their knowledge in other areas such as technology. <br />The active learning process that is implicit in PBL also takes into account the various learning styles and preferences of students. The element of student choice allows students the ability to decide various aspects of their project, including the tools and resources they use in their research, how they want to demonstrate their learning in their final product and the type of learning environment they would like to work in. A more reflective child might choose to demonstrate their learning in journal entries that will be shared with classmates, while a more analytical student might choose to demonstrate their learning by creating timelines, graphs, and other visual representations to present to their audience. Students who prefer a quiet working environment might choose to work in the library, while other students who work better with more external activity might choose to work in a busy classroom, or outdoor area. Children learn so much about themselves when they are empowered to make their own decisions (Bell, 2010).<br />Project-based learning is especially effective in reaching gifted students. Due to the fact that PBL encompasses most, if not all, of the core academic subjects, teachers and students are able to spend more time on their projects than they would if only one core subject was addressed. This added time allows students to experience a depth of content not achieved in most classrooms. This is particularly beneficial to gifted students who are often held to a higher standard of research and creation of the end product of a project. Gifted students are also expected to work independently, accept leadership roles, be responsible and exhibit intellectual curiosity (Diffily, 2002). Gifted students explore project topics on a deeper level, and are challenged to push themselves to ask higher-level questions of themselves and their project.<br />The Effect of Project-Based learning on Standardized Test Scores<br />In measuring the basic academic subject proficiency, standardized testing shows that students engaged in project-based learning outscore their traditionally educated peers (Bell, 2010). This is partially due to the fact that students involved in PBL are solving real-world problems. They aren’t being given problems that only require that they memorize rules or concepts in order to solve, they are applying their knowledge to something more concrete; something that they will be able to use in their everyday lives. This gives students more of a sense of ownership of their learning, which in turn increases their motivation to learn and perform well.<br /> In one British study, over the course of three years, students were taught using traditional math programs at one school, and PBL at another. Results of standardized testing indicated that three times as many PBL students achieved the highest possible score on the national exam than the students at the traditional schools (as stated by Boaler, 1999 in Bell, 2010). The study further indicated that PBL students were able to answer the basic procedural problems using formulas as their traditionally taught peers, but were far superior in answering conceptual problems. In another study, eighth grade students in an inner-city, racially diverse school in Boston which implemented a PBL program, exhibited the second highest scores in the district on the Stanford 9 Open Ended Reading Assessment (as stated by Thomas, 2000 in Bell, 2010).<br />Conclusions<br />Project-based learning provides students with a powerful learning experience. Students feel a sense of pride and ownership of their learning and their projects and in turn push themselves to dive deeper into the subject matter. Because PBL is student directed, and connected with the “real world” outside of the classroom, students are motivated to learn, and acquire a deeper and conceptual understanding of subject matter. PBL can not only be beneficial in increasing test scores, and motivating students, but it also serves to create a more well-rounded, and empowered student.<br />References<br />Bell, S. (2010). Project-Based Learning for the 21st Century: Skills for the Future. The Clearing House, 83, 39-43.<br />Diffily, D. (2002). Project-Based Learning: Meeting social studies standards and the needs of gifted learners. Gifted Child Today, 25(3), 40-43, 59. Retrieved from ERIC database.<br />

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