In thinking of the elements of project based learning I can understand the benefits of such methodology. PBL creates engagement and motivation within learners to research, think critically, and problem solve. It offers a degree of freedom and choice allowing all types of learners to participate. The limited research shows students involved in PBL show decreased anxiety toward some content areas, more positive attitudes toward learning, and little difference between academic performance and socioeconomic levels (David, 2008). David (2008) points out, most research focuses on the challenges of implementing PBL, to which there are many. These challenges range from a lack in training to demands of curriculum and testing, to the time and effort required to plan, implement, and manage PBL. For one teacher with a class of 25 students implementing PBL is a scary prospect, especially if it the first time for the project, because there are bound to be kinks and snags along the way.
PBL is a challenging fit within the demands and expectations of many public school teachers, but as David (2008) suggests, teachers can use the key ideas of PBL to motivate and challenge students with real world problems.
David, J. (2008, February). What research says about … / project-based learning. Educational Leadership, 65:5, 80-82. Retrieved June 12, 2014, from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational_leadership/feb08/vol65/num05/Project-Based_Learning.aspx
My thoughts are scattered as I begin to make sense of PBL, but as I begin to delve into the idea of Project Based Learning, I wonder why this isn’t pushed more? In many aspects students see teachers and school as boring and irrelevant. Why would a student want to sit and listen to a teacher lecture when they can watch more interesting videos, play games and read about the same content at home or even on their cell phone. With all this knowledge available at the touch of a button or even at the sound of a voice the role of teachers is beginning to shift. If we want to stay relevant and prepare students for the 21st Century PBL seems to be the way to go. As teachers we have to move beyond surface level instruction and provide students with opportunities to dig deeper. The article 8 Essentials for Project-Based Learning by Larmer and Mergendoller, was my first experience with PBL, and I have to say it excites me to start a new school year. I am anxious to develop new projects and share these concepts with my colleagues.
In addition, I found it interesting how much the 8 essential elements for PBL coincide with John Keller’s ARCS Theory of Motivational Design. Each of the 8 essential elements fits somewhere within Keller’s breakdown of Attention, Relevance, Confidence, and Success. These ideas are important to me because I strive to engage each of my students. Too often teacher’s write students off because they are disinterested or unmotivated. This to me is failing to do my job.