Project-Based Learning

Monday 06 Aug

Our biannual Exhibition Evenings showcase the culmination of a semester’s Project-Based Learning (PBL). But have you ever stopped to think about what PBL actually is?

PBL sees students working on a major project over an extended period of time. They engage in answering complex questions and solving real-world problems. There are gateways or check-points along the way to ensure children remain on track, and feedforward assists children in refining their skills as they go, keeping the focus more on ‘learning’ than on ‘doing’. Students demonstrate their learnings by developing a product or presentation for an authentic audience (a.k.a. Exhibition Evening). The Buck Institute for Education says the following about PBL. Too many students – especially those furthest from opportunity – are unprepared for the modern economy and the challenges of the 21st century. Project Based Learning (PBL) prepares students for academic, personal, and career success, and readies young people to rise to the challenges of their lives and the world they will inherit … As a result, students develop deep content knowledge as well as critical thinking, creativity, and communication skills in the context of doing an authentic, meaningful project. Project Based Learning unleashes a contagious, creative energy among students and teachers.

Studies show that, when implemented well, PBL has dramatic long-term effects on student learning. While short-term retention of content is similar between PBL and more traditional teaching strategies, long-term retention of content is significantly higher. Studies show that PBL improves problem-solving and collaboration skills and improves students’ attitudes towards life-long learning. While I doubt many children’s lifelong ambition is to ace a major exam, studies also report that PBL helps students perform as well or better than traditional learners in high-stakes tests.

Learn more about PBL and studies relating to PBL:

- Jane Mueller