project based learning review - a case study

Projects make the world go 'round. For almost any endeavor -- whether it's launching a space shuttle, designing a marketing campaign, conducting a trial, or staging an art exhibit -- you can find an interdisciplinary team working together to make it happen.

When the project approach takes hold in the classroom, students gain opportunities to engage in real-world problem solving too. Instead of learning about nutrition in the abstract, students act as consultants to develop a healthier school cafeteria menu. Rather than learning about the past from a textbook, students become historians as they make a documentary about an event that changed their community.

Especially when it's infused with technology, project-based learning may look and feel like a 21st-century idea, but it's built on a venerable foundation.

Strong Foundation

Confucius and Aristotle were early proponents of learning by doing. Socrates modeled how to learn through questioning, inquiry, and critical thinking -- all strategies that remain very relevant in today's PBL classrooms. Fast-forward to John Dewey, 20th-century American educational theorist and philosopher, and we hear a ringing endorsement for learning that's grounded in experience and driven by student interest. Dewey challenged the traditional view of the student as a passive recipient of knowledge (and the teacher as the transmitter of a static body of facts). He argued instead for active experiences that prepare students for ongoing learning about a dynamic world. As Dewey pointed out, "Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself."

Maria Montessori launched an international movement during the 20th century with her approach to early-childhood learning. She showed through example that education happens "not by listening to words but by experiences upon the environment." The Italian physician and child-development expert pioneered learning environments that foster capable, adaptive citizens and problem solvers.

Jean Piaget, the Swiss developmental psychologist, helped us understand how we make meaning from our experiences at different ages. His insights laid the foundation for the constructivist approach to education in which students build on what they know by asking questions, investigating, interacting with others, and reflecting on these experiences.

Learning from Real Life

Against this theoretical background, problem-based learning emerged more than half a century ago as a practical teaching strategy in medicine, engineering, economics, and other disciplines. With this approach, students are challenged to solve problems or do simulations that mimic real life. (See Schools That Work: Project-Based Learning in Maine(1).) Although problems are defined in advance by the instructor, they tend to be complex, even messy, and cannot be solved by one "right" or easy-to-find answer. This is how medical students, for instance, learn to diagnose and treat actual patients -- something they can't learn in a lecture hall. Unlike textbook-driven instruction, problem-based learning puts the student in charge of asking questions and discovering answers.

In K-12 education, project-based learning has evolved as a method of instruction that addresses core content through rigorous, relevant, hands-on learning. Projects tend to be more open-ended than problem-based learning, giving students more choice when it comes to demonstrating what they know. (Get tips from the blog, "20 Ideas for Engaging Projects."(2)) Unlike projects that are tacked on at the end of "real" learning, the projects in PBL are the centerpiece of the lesson. Projects are typically framed with open-ended questions(3) that drive students to investigate, do research, or construct their own solutions. For example: How can we reduce our school's carbon footprint? How safe is our water? What can we do to protect a special place or species? How do we measure the impact of disasters? Students use technology tools much as professionals do -- to communicate, collaborate, conduct research, analyze, create, and publish their own work for authentic audiences. Instead of writing book reports, for instance, students in a literature project might produce audio reviews of books, post them on a blog, and invite responses from a partner class in another city or country.

Fit for a New Century

A number of trends have contributed to the adoption of project-based learning as a 21st-century strategy for education. Cognitive scientists have advanced our understanding of how we learn, how we develop expertise, and how we begin to think at a higher level. Fields ranging from neuroscience to social psychology have contributed to our understanding of what conditions create the best environment for learning. Culture, context, and the social nature of learning all have a role in shaping the learner's experience. These insights help to explain the appeal of PBL for engaging diverse learners.

Although PBL applies across disciplines, it consistently emphasizes active, student-directed learning. Why is this approach more likely than rote memorization to lead to deeper understanding? Relevance plays a big role. Projects give students a real-world context for learning, creating a strong "need to know." Motivation is another factor. Projects offer students choice and voice, personalizing the learning experience. By design, projects are open-ended. This means students need to consider and evaluate multiple solutions and, perhaps, defend their choices. All these activities engage higher-order thinking skills.

Another trend that is fueling interest in PBL is our evolving definition of literacy. Learning to read is no longer enough. Today's students must to be able to navigate and evaluate a vast store of information. This requires fluency in technology along with the development of critical-thinking skills. PBL offers students opportunities not only to make sense of this information but also to expand on it with their own contributions.

Finally, today's students will face complex challenges when they complete their formal education. Knowing how to solve problems, work collaboratively, and think innovatively are becoming essential skills -- not only for finding future careers but also for tackling difficult issues in local communities and around the world.

To respond to these complex demands, a growing number of teachers, schools, and even states have adopted project-based learning. In some cases, PBL is proving an essential ingredient in school redesign. New Tech Network(4), Expeditionary Learning(5), the EAST Initiative(6), and Envision Schools(7) are just a few examples of programs that are integrating PBL into school-wide models to prepare students for the future.

2013-5-2 12:49:45

Posted by DoctorZ | 阅读全文 | 回复(2) | 引用通告 | 编辑

Re:project based learning review - a case study

Da Vinci Schools are small, college-preparatory K-12 public charter schools located at the corners of Hawthorne, El Segundo, Manhattan Beach, and Redondo Beach in Los Angeles, California, United States, in close proximity to leading aerospace and high tech companies, design firms, and major universities.

Da Vinci Schools are dedicated to preparing students for college completion and 21st century jobs through an interdisciplinary project-based "learn by doing" curriculum that exceeds state content standards and California's "a-g" university admissions requirements. Da Vinci Schools offer students close relationships with teachers, community partnerships, mentoring relationships with industry professionals, job shadows in the 10th grade, internships in the 11th and 12th grades, and an Early College program where students are concurrently enrolled in college classes while they earn their high school diploma.

Established in 2009, Da Vinci Schools have earned a reputation for hands-on learning and a new public-private partnership model where industry helps to define the real-world skill sets needed to prepare students for jobs in today's global economy. In 2010, California's top educator, former California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell, said Da Vinci Schools should be a "model for other public schools in the state" because students learn by doing—producing projects that prepare them with the 21st century skills needed for success in college and the global workplace.[1] The Los Angeles Times reported that Da Vinci Schools offer a teaching model that would make Leonardo da Vinci proud.[2]

In October 2010, Da Vinci Science was cited by the U.S. Department of State as a "best practice" example demonstrating how industry, government, academia and the K-12 community can effectively collaborate to engage students in STEM education. In 2011, the American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE)/Corporate Member Council (CMC) selected Da Vinci Science as a recipient of the 2011 Excellence in Engineering Education Collaboration Award for its extensive collaboration with Northrop Grumman and with leading universities that promote engineering education for young people.

2013-5-2 13:29:00

Posted by doctorzhang | 个人主页 | 引用 | 返回 | 删除 | 回复

Re:project based learning review - a case study

Project-based learning is considered an alternative to paper-based, rote memorization, teacher-led classrooms. Proponents of project-based learning cite numerous benefits to the implementation of these strategies in the classroom including a greater depth of understanding of concepts, broader knowledge base, improved communication and interpersonal/social skills, enhanced leadership skills, increased creativity, and improved writing skills.

John Dewey initially promoted the idea of "learning by doing." In My Pedagogical Creed (1897) Dewey enumerated his beliefs regarding education: "The teacher is not in the school to impose certain ideas or to form certain habits in the child, but is there as a member of the community to select the influences which shall affect the child and to assist him in properly responding to these.......I believe, therefore, in the so-called expressive or constructive activities as the centre of correlation." [1](Dewey, 1897) Educational research has advanced this idea of teaching and learning into a methodology known as "project-based learning." Blumenfeld & Krajcik (2006)[2] cite studies by Marx et al, 2004, Rivet & Krajcki, 2004 and William & Linn, 2003 and state that "research has demonstrated that student in project-based learning classrooms get higher scores than students in traditional classroom."

Markham (2011) describes project-based learning (PBL) as: " PBL integrates knowing and doing. Students learn knowledge and elements of the core curriculum, but also apply what they know to solve authentic problems and produce results that matter. PBL students take advantage of digital tools to produce high quality, collaborative products. PBL refocuses education on the student, not the curriculum--a shift mandated by the global world, which rewards intangible assets such as drive, passion, creativity, empathy, and resiliency. These cannot be taught out of a textbook, but must be activated through experience." [3]

Project-based learning has been associated with the "situated learning" perspective of James G. Greeno (2006) and on the constructivist theories of Jean Piaget. A more precise description of the processes of PBL given by Blumenfeld et al says that, "Project-based learning is a comprehensive perspective focused on teaching by engaging students in investigation. Within this framework, students pursue solutions to nontrivial problems by asking and refining questions, debating ideas, making predictions, designing plans and/or experiments, collecting and analyzing data, drawing conclusions, communicating their ideas and findings to others, asking new questions, and creating artifacts." [4](Blumenfeld, et al , 1991) The basis of PBL lies in the authenticity or real-life application of the research. Students working as a team are given a "driving question" to respond to or answer, then directed to create an artifact (or artifacts) to present their gained knowledge. Artifacts may include a variety of media such as writings, art, drawings, three-dimensional representations, videos, photography, or technology-based presentations.

Project-based learning is not without its' opponents though; in Peer Evaluation in Blended Team Project-Based Learning: What Do Students Find Important? Hye-Jung & Cheolil (2012) describe social loafing as a negative aspect of collaborative learning. Social loafing may include insufficient performances by some team members as well as a lowering of expected standards of performance by the group as a whole to maintain congeniality amongst members. These authors said that because teachers tend to grade the finished product only, the social dynamics of the assignment may escape the teacher's notice. [5]


  • 1 Structure
  • 2 Elements
  • 3 Examples
  • 4 Roles
  • 5 Outcomes
  • 6 Criticism
  • 7 See also
  • 8 External links
  • 9 References

[edit] Structure

Project-based learning emphasizes learning activities that are long-term, interdisciplinary and student-centered. Unlike traditional, teacher-led classroom activities, students often must organize their own work and manage their own time in a project-based class. Project-based instruction differs from traditional inquiry by its emphasis on students' collaborative or individual artifact construction to represent what is being learned.

[edit] Elements

The core idea of project-based learning is that real-world problems capture students' interest and provoke serious thinking as the students acquire and apply new knowledge in a problem-solving context. The teacher plays the role of facilitator, working with students to frame worthwhile questions, structuring meaningful tasks, coaching both knowledge development and social skills, and carefully assessing what students have learned from the experience. Typical projects present a problem to solve (What is the best way to reduce the pollution in the schoolyard pond?) or a phenomenon to investigate (What causes rain?).

Comprehensive Project-based Learning:

  • is organized around an open-ended driving question or challenge.
  • creates a need to know essential content and skills.
  • requires inquiry to learn and/or create something new.
  • requires critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, and various forms of communication, often known as "21st Century Skills."[6]
  • allows some degree of student voice and choice.
  • incorporates feedback and revision.
  • results in a publicly presented product or performance. [7]

[edit] Examples

Although projects are the primary vehicle for instruction in project-based learning, there are no commonly shared criteria for what constitutes an acceptable project. Projects vary greatly in the depth of the questions explored, the clarity of the learning goals, the content and structure of the activity, and guidance from the teacher. The role of projects in the overall curriculum is also open to interpretation. Projects can guide the entire curriculum (more common in charter or other alternative schools) or simply comprise of a few hands-on activities. They might be multidisciplinary (more likely in elementary schools) or single-subject (commonly science and math). Some projects involve the whole class, while others are done in small groups or individually.

When PBL is used with 21st-century tools/skills [1], students are expected to use technology in meaningful ways to help them investigate, collaborate, analyze, synthesize and present their learning. Where technology is infused throughout the project, a more appropriate term for the pedagogy can be referred to as iPBL (copyright 2006, ITJAB), to reflect the emphasis on technological skills as well as academic content.

An example of applied PBL is Muscatine High School, located in Muscatine, Iowa. The school started the G2 (Global Generation Exponential Learning) which consists of middle and high school “Schools within Schools” that deliver the four core subject areas. At the high school level, activities may include making water purification systems, investigating service learning, or creating new bus routes. At the middle school level, activities may include researching trash statistics, documenting local history through interviews, or writing essays about a community scavenger hunt. Classes are designed to help diverse students become college and career ready after high school.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has provided funding to start holistic PBL schools across the United States. These organizations include:

  • EdVisions Schools [2]
  • Envision Schools [3]
  • North Bay Academy of Communication and Design [4]
  • Big Picture Schools [5]
  • New Tech Network [6]

Another example is Manor New Technology High School, a public high school that is part of the New Tech Network of school. Manor New Technology High School is a 100 percent project-based instruction school. Students average 60 projects a year across subjects. Since opening in fall 2007, the school has outperformed the state of Texas and Manor Independent School District in the percentage of students passing state standards in three of the four subjects tested: science, social studies, and reading/English language arts.[8]

[edit] Roles

PBL relies on learning groups. Student groups determine their projects, in so doing, they engage student voice by encouraging students to take full responsibility for their learning. This is what makes PBL constructivist. Students work together to accomplish specific goals.

When students use technology as a tool to communicate with others, they take on an active role vs. a passive role of transmitting the information by a teacher, a book, or broadcast. The student is constantly making choices on how to obtain, display, or manipulate information. Technology makes it possible for students to think actively about the choices they make and execute. Every student has the opportunity to get involved either individually or as a group.

Instructor role in Project Based Learning is that of a facilitator. They do not relinquish control of the classroom or student learning but rather develop an atmosphere of shared responsibility. The Instructor must structure the proposed question/issue so as to direct the student's learning toward content-based materials. The instructor must regulate student success with intermittent, transitional goals to ensure student projects remain focused and students have a deep understanding of the concepts being investigated. It is important for teachers not to provide the students any answers because it defeats the learning and investigating process. Once the project is finished, the instructor provides the students with feedback that will help them strengthen their skills for their next project

Student role is to ask questions, build knowledge, and determine a real-world solution to the issue/question presented. Students must collaborate expanding their active listening skills and requiring them to engage in intelligent focused communication. Therefore, allowing them to think rationally on how to solve problems. PBL forces students to take ownership of their success.

[edit] Outcomes

More important than learning science, students need to learn to work in a community, thereby taking on social responsibilities. The most significant contributions of PBL have been in schools languishing in poverty stricken areas; when students take responsibility, or ownership, for their learning, their self-esteem soars. It also helps to create better work habits and attitudes toward learning. In standardized tests, languishing schools have been able to raise their testing grades a full level by implementing PBL.[citation needed] Although students do work in groups, they also become more independent because they are receiving little instruction from the teacher. With Project-Based Learning students also learn skills that are essential in higher education. The students learn more than just finding answers, PBL allows them to expand their minds and think beyond what they normally would. Students have to find answers to questions and combine them using critically thinking skills to come up with answers.

PBL is significant to the study of (mis-)conceptions; local concepts and childhood intuitions that are hard to replace with conventional classroom lessons. In PBL, project science is the community culture; the student groups themselves resolve their understandings of phenomena with their own knowledge building. Technology allows them to search in more useful ways, along with getting more rapid results.

Opponents of Project Based Learning warn against negative outcomes primarily in projects that become unfocused and tangential arguing that underdeveloped lessons can result in the wasting of precious class time. No one teaching method has been proven more effective than another. Opponents suggest that narratives and presentation of anecdotal evidence included in lecture-style instruction can convey the same knowledge in less class time. Given that disadvantaged students generally have fewer opportunities to learn academic content outside of school, wasted class time due to an unfocused lesson presents a particular problem. Instructors can be deluded into thinking that as long as a student is engaged and doing, they are learning. Ultimately it is cognitive activity that determines the success of a lesson. If the project does not remain on task and content driven the student will not be successful in learning the material. The lesson will be ineffective. A source of difficulty for teachers includes, "Keeping these complex projects on track while attending to students' individual learning needs requires artful teaching, as well as industrial-strength project management."[9]Like any approach, Project Based Learning is only beneficial when applied successfully.

Problem-based learning is a similar pedagogic approach, however, problem-based approaches structure students' activities more by asking them to solve specific (open-ended) problems rather than relying on students to come up with their own problems in the course of completing a project.

A meta-analysis conducted by Purdue University found that when implemented well, PBL can increase long-term retention of material and replicable skill, as well as improve teachers' and students' attitudes towards learning.[10]

[edit] Criticism

One concern is that PBL may be inappropriate in mathematics, the reason being that mathematics is primarily skill-based at the elementary level. Transforming the curriculum into an over-reaching project or series of projects does not allow for the necessary practice at particular mathematical skills. For instance, factoring quadratic equations in elementary algebra is something that requires extensive practice.

On the other hand, a teacher could integrate a PBL approach into the standard curriculum, helping the students see some broader contexts where abstract quadratic equations may apply. For example, Newton's law implies that tossed objects follow a parabolic path, and the roots of the corresponding equation correspond to the starting and ending locations of the object.

Another criticism of PBL is that measures that are stated as reasons for its success are not measurable using standard measurement tools, and rely on subjective rubrics for assessing results.

In PBL there is also a certain tendency for the creation of the final product of the project to become the driving force in classroom activities. When this happens, the project can lose its content focus and be ineffective in helping students learn certain concepts and skills. For example, academic projects that culminate in an artistic display or exhibit may place more emphasis on the artistic processes involved in creating the display than on the academic content that the project is meant to help students learn.

2013-5-2 13:27:28

Posted by doctorzhang | 个人主页 | 引用 | 返回 | 删除 | 回复


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