When I was first introduced to project work I was very much passionate about a project called “Make Peace”. In that project, I instructed my students to create posters, write creative biographies about Nobel Prize winners, and talk about their dreams giving a speech similar to Martin Luther Kings’ famous speech. Yet, when the big day came, I couldn’t see any creative work. Instead, it was obvious that my students Googled information, copied and pasted them to their papers then recited them to the audience. I realised that students learned nothing and my first project was a total failure!
Yet, like any rational teacher, I decided to reflect on the project-based learning (PBL) approach, so I spent more time preparing for my second project, “Budding Scientists”. Throughout that project, I had been guiding my students step by step, and creating a sense of competition among groups. The results were fantabulous and I came to believe that PBL is exactly what every teacher should try. In this article, I state the top ten reasons why every teacher should give it a try.
10/Authentic Assessment: PBL provides Teachers with multiple opportunities to assess students’ learning.
9/Knowledge with Practice: Unlike traditional learning in which learners rely on reciting information from books, PBL nurtures learning-by-doing which ensures life long learning.
8/Learning Styles: While traditional schooling focuses on repetition and pressured exams, PBL addresses different learning styles such as social, physical, visual, and aural learning styles
7/Bridging the Gaps: PBL is an opportunity for teachers to learn about their students’ personalities and for students to learn about each other. PBL classes do not only value freedom but they are also anxiety-free.
6/Life Skills: PBL prepares students for life. It cultivates curiosity, independence, responsibility, and self discipline.
5/Creativity and originality: One of the overriding advantages of PBL is that both teachers and learners can demonstrate their creativity and originality. Teachers get creative in the planning process while learners are encouraged to come up with innovative ideas.
4/Self responsibility to learn: PBL sows the seeds of inquiry into learners’ minds. By asking questions and working hard to find answers, they drive their own learning. Teachers intervene solely to guide them.
3/Positive Competition: since different groups are in fierce competition for first place, each group aims at producing high quality work which leaves no room for mediocrity.
2/21st century Skills: Besides basic skills, PBL promotes 21st century Skills such as using technology, collaborating, thinking critically, solving problems, public speaking, and time management.
1/It’s Enjoyable: Learners can never learn if they are not engaged and interested in what they are doing. PBL captures all this and it is often described as ‘structured playing’, for it makes learners feel free in choosing their topics and have fun while learning.
By Aziza Benlamoudi
Ms Benlamoudi is an educator and a Teach UAE Magazine Blogger.