The paradigm in education is shifting away from instruction-based education to student-centered learning. Teachers and administrators are assuming roles that are less central to student learning, and, instead, guiding students through informational experiences. Project-based learning is a method educators use frequently today to improve teaching and learning in the classroom.
Developing Tomorrow’s Professionals
Many teachers are shifting their pedagogical approaches to project-based learning or PBL. Rather than relying on teacher-delivered lectures and rote memorization, PBL assigns students projects that encourage understanding through experience. While approaches vary, there are several features that are common to effective project assignments:
- Clear communication of project expectations.
- Preparation for different rates of completion, including additional activities and support.
- Student-led progress tracking, reporting work done.
- Step-by-step deadlines to increase the sense of accomplishment.
- Grading criteria and rubrics that explain teacher evaluation of completed work.
- Sufficient time for student-led brainstorming and discussion.
- Assessment and adjustment based on class performance.
Good Teachers Grow With Their Students
Today’s students need information, but more importantly, they need to know how to synthesize information and leverage what they have learned into new knowledge that they find personally relevant and engaging. Teachers need to work through the same learning process as their students. Even teachers who consider themselves subject specialists or content experts will still need to lead their students down the path of self-directed discovery, so understanding this process can give teachers the insights they will need to improve the teaching and learning process.
Project-based learning develops social skills, communication, reflection, discussion, critical thinking and teamwork. PBL is a method that many teachers are using to improve education and learning. Student-centered activities allow students to develop at their own pace while developing knowledge that personalizes education and stimulates engagement.
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