This week I have done a good bit of looking into Project Based Learning, particularly on the Alabama Learning Exchange (ALEX for short) website. I love the wide variety of stuff that they have on this site and for all of the major subjects.
The question is, is it better than traditional instruction? Since I have never really experienced a class that is strictly project based, I can only answer theoretically, the answer I think, is yes. The next question is: Why?
Surely there are a few different reasons, but the biggest one, in my opinion, is student engagement. Let’s just think for a minute, how engaged were you the last time that you sat in an hour long lecture? Now how engaged were you the last time you worked as a member of a team, trying to put together a project? To me, there is no doubt in my mind that for engagement project based learning is way better. The more engaged the more that is learned, the more learned the better the test scores, The better the test scores the better the retention rates and college acceptance rates. So as a high school teacher, why wouldn’t you want your students engaged?
Another positive, is that it teaches the students valuable work skills, such as collaboration and decisiveness. When working on a project as a team, students must work together to get the common goal of a good grade. In the work-force they must also need to know how to collaborate to make whatever company that they work for better. It can also teach decisiveness, how important is this fact, should it be something that is emphasized, something that is put to the side, or should it even be mentioned at all? That is something else that can help in the student’s future in the workforce.
One more thing that I just thought about that this project based learning helps, public speaking. If you have the student’s present their projects they will intuitively learn how to speak in front of people, especially if you invite guests to the presentations.
Given all of this, I believe that Project Based Learning has a huge potential to help students learn. But, do I believe that traditional instruction (lectures) should be removed all together? No, I don’t. Especially in my subject of math, I feel as though some introductory lecture will be necessary. But only enough to give the student’s the knowledge of how to do what I need them to do, then we can go into a project.
So, I believe that the future of teaching is project based, but lecture cannot be entirely removed (from all subjects at least) because I believe that a well done lecture can help prepare for the project to be done.