Updated: Mar 31, 2022
July 14th, 2021
Project-Based Learning: What it is and How it Helped Me
What is it?
PBL or Project-Based Learning is an education method, kind of like an assignment. However, where it differs is that the classic assignment involves a teacher giving you a topic where you might write and present for it, but that is pretty much the extent it. There might not be a considerable scope or a lot of learning outside of the assignment topic. PBL is different because of the first letter: project. The key difference between PBL and an assignment is that in a project, students will be tackling real-world problems. It's not only about being theoretical, reading books, or learning a subject that may or may not apply to the student. With PBL, the students can work on something tangible and learn real-world skills in the process. Let's say the teacher goes to the class and says, "okay, students, our school is lacking collaboration from the community. How can we fix that?" To complete the project, students will have to research the issue, divide roles between themselves, and tackle the project in different ways. This is all then presented to the class with suggestions and solutions to fix the problem. It's not only about learning theory. It's about understanding a local or global issue, creating solutions to it, and presenting the solution to the class. This entire process is similar to pitching a business to get investments or even a job interview. The skills that students learn from a project can apply to the real world and prepare students for their future careers.
Standard assignments and tests are definitely useful, but project-based learning can provide a whole new means of gaining experience and learning new subjects. PBL allows for different ways to think about how to tackle a problem and figure out solutions. It greatly develops critical and analytical thinking as well as creativity. Students won't have an easy answer to a problem, nor will there be a perfect right answer. They will have to figure out for themselves what will complete the project and how to go about it.
An Example of Project-based Learning
A perfect example of PBL is in my own schooling. One semester, during my business degree, I had the opportunity to switch from standard assignments and tests to PBL. Through the school's connections, a classmate and I partnered with a local company to help them fix some issues with their business. Both of us did some deep analysis into the industry, the business itself, and its customers. The two of us conducted surveys, taste tests on their products, interviews, and more to figure out everything possible about their products and their customers. We learned how to complete statistical analysis and the ins and outs of business consulting. We gained all kinds of real-world business skills such as analysis, presentation, market research, finances, and so much more throughout the entire process! At the end of the project, we even got to present our findings to the business owners! What we learned was more applicable and valuable than a lot of what we learned through regular assignments! While tests and standard assignments have their place, all of my classmates and I agreed the highlight of our schooling experience was working on the project. I learned more from it than an entire year of regular schooling! And everything I learned helped me immensely with my future career.
Project-based learning might not be for everyone, but I encourage anyone that wants to have some unconventional schooling to give it a try if the opportunity presents itself! You'll gain invaluable experience, learn tons, and ultimately help a real business get better! It's an absolute win-win for everyone involved. You and/or your kids will thank you for it!