04 Oct Project Based Learning In Academia

The Benefits Of Project Based Learning In An Academic Setting

Before the introduction of Project Based Learning (PBL) and similar concepts, classrooms were rigid, strictly controlled places where pupils and students would simply learn facts, recite them, and repeat them as best as they could in order to pass exams. With this traditional system, learners did not always understand what they were learning. And worse, they were inadequately prepared to survive in today’s world.

Project Based Learning helps students develop vital skills for living in an increasingly knowledge-based and technological world. Solving today’s highly complex challenges requires that students have both basic skills – math, reading, writing – and 21st century skills – problem solving, teamwork, information synthesising, research gathering, time management, utilising high-tech tools.

The PBL approach puts students in an active rather than passive position, where they’re doing as opposed to simply listening. Students become engaged in learning, and are encouraged to enquire and think at a higher level as they attempt to solve intricate problems that closely resemble real-life. Educators create age-appropriate and topic-specific projects and implement them in the classroom setting.

PBL works because students find it more enjoyable. Since they’re allowed to touch, smell, and experiment, they are more receptive to new ideas and have greater chances of remembering in great detail. Here are some other benefits of Project Based Learning:

  1. Improved attitudes toward learning
    Studies suggest that PBL increases attendance, improves attitudes toward learning, and fosters growth in self-reliance. Many students love PBL because it creates authentic experiences that are both fun and memorable.

    Students typically take on the role and mannerisms of real people working in those specific disciplines. Whether it is creating a documentary about an environmental issue or developing a multimedia presentation highlighting the pros/cons of building a shopping mall in a community, students engage in real-world activities that may have an impact beyond the classroom.

  2. Promotes lifelong learning
    The PBL classroom encourages students to learn essential problem-solving techniques that are also applicable in their careers, hobbies, and passions. At the core of the PBL approach is the idea that learning is most effective when students put theory to practice. The hands-on element can be successfully incorporated into different disciplines

    Students are exposed to different challenges that require the use of multiple problem-solving tactics, which encourages them to think, strategize, and adapt. Learning these critical skills at an early age helps to establish the right mindset that will guide them for the rest of their life, and increase their chances of success in whatever they do.

  3. Helps to develop interpersonal skills
    Educators and teachers have the freedom to design different types of projects depending on the skills they intend to nurture. Large and complex projects usually require the students to work together in groups, which cultivates communication skills and encourages students with different personalities to find common ground and work together.

    Group work helps to introduce students to the concept of specialisation and delegation – where students who show strength in certain areas are encouraged to take the lead in different subsets – that govern the real world. Students learn to allocate resources optimally depending on their individual strengths, and then compile them afterwards to deliver a singular result.

  4. Better academic gains compared to traditional classroom environment
    PBL takes a student-centred approach that changes the traditional role of the teacher as a “sage-on-the-stage” to that of a “guide-on-the-side.” In other words, the PBL system requires teachers to step into the classroom as process managers rather than distributors of knowledge. In their new role, teachers are expected to help students in their self-learning process by initiating projects that encourage reflection, and supporting them.

    Consequently, the academic gains are often better than those achieved by other models – with students actively participating in projects and taking greater responsibility for their own development, and their tutors guiding them and fostering growth, as opposed to the traditional classroom activities where the teacher has to impart knowledge.

  5. The model accommodates diverse learners
    PBL is also beneficial to teachers as it enhances professionalism and collaboration among colleagues, and creates opportunities to bond with students and offer more personalised instruction. This model makes it possible for students with diverse learning leads to grow together, but at their own pace. Teachers can introduce a wider range of projects to accommodate more learning opportunities in the classroom.

    In fact, studies suggest that students who benefit the most from PBL are those for whom conventional instructional approaches have proven ineffective. Generally, students seem to respond better when the learning approach is changed:

    • From theory to application of theory
    • From repeating and memorising to experimenting, integrating, and presenting
    • From following instruction and directives to performing self-directed learning activities
    • From listening and responding to communicating and taking responsibility
    • From knowledge of facts/content to understanding processes
    • From being tutor-dependent to being empowered

Final Note
Studies show that this type of hands-on learning approach not only increases children’s understanding and retention, but also gives them the tools to understand and gain insight into intricate topics. Project Based Learning is a great way to keep creative and innovative minds occupied in a fun way, which essentially promotes learning.


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