Traditional classroom learning has for many years created doubts as to whether for the 21st. Century, this methodology is the right approach for our children and young students. Many countries around the world including Austria, Belgium, Estonia, Ireland, France, Finland, Norway, Portugal, and Sweden among others, have found ways to incorporate project-based learning into their classrooms. According to The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) a worldwide study of 70 nations of 15-year-old- students’ scholastic achievement, The United States ranks 31 overall in Mathematics, Science, and Reading. It is also important to acknowledge the fact that the United States spends more per student than most of these countries. The conundrum then is, what are we waiting for? What options do we have in this country?
Apparently, we do have options, and they are proven to be better than our current traditional method. For many of us, project-based learning sounds like the new fad in teaching, and we fail to comprehend what it entails. Here is a brief definition of what it is and why we should at least consider this new approach to teach our students to achieve better and to reach higher.
What is project-based learning?
According to The Buck Institute for Education (BIE) a non-profit organization helping teachers implement project-based learning in their classrooms defines that project-based learning as: A teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to a complex question, problem, or challenge (BIE, 2014a).
Project-based learning CAN and DOES incorporate many of the disciplines taught in school, but all geared to research, and to find a solution to a complex issue that challenges the student to learn and to question an important economic, social or political issue of our society.
The countries that have incorporated project-based learning have seen many benefits associated with this approach. This educational option has encouraged school administrators, teachers, and parents to engage with this new methodology and to seek ways to make it happen and to make it work in their schools.
Mastery Learning is heavily dependent on project-based learning. It allows students to work at their own pace and do lectures outside of the classroom so that project-based learning can happen more inside the classroom. If you look at the Outstanda Education NFT movement, you can see how this is going to flip the work and the lectures around.
There are many benefits teachers and school administrators associate with project-based learning, among them:
- Engagement – Because students are encouraged to find a topic they are interested in learning, or a solution to a problem, teachers do not need to encourage them, they are eager to learn.
- Attendance – Project-based learning has shown an increase in attendance. The projects and peers who are involved in the project are encouragement enough for other students to stop missing school. Students graduate in the time expected and for many schools that is an excellent indicator for continuing or finding a way to implement project-based learning.
- Preparedness for college and life – Students are learning information and finding solutions to real life problems that will prepare them for the complexity of life in the future.
- Better Discipline – Collaboration to projects make the student behave and understand that his or her collaboration or lack thereof is pivotal to the completion of the project. Children seem to understand this concept without being reprimanded by teachers.
- Better retention of material learned – Because the students are engaged in finding solutions or answers to their projects, the material learned is retained and learned.
Project-based learning is not a new fad in education, it is a new way of teaching and preparing our students for the future. It is no longer acceptable for our schools to provide learning the way it was taught a century ago, we must adapt and we must find a way to better serve the future of our society. As a school administrator, teacher, or concerned parent, we owe our students the tools necessary to succeed, and we must do it soon, we have the means and the will to do it.