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The Secrets to Raising a Smarter Child
- By Inderbir Sandhu, Ph.D


Project-Based Learning - Part I

By Andrew Loh

Project based learning is a real learning in action and it is a dynamic process that helps children become very effective learners. Project based learning helps your children become active learners of lessons and assists them acquire practical skills and knowledge. In general, almost all classrooms are too academic and boring to children. Most classrooms tend to restrict their activities to a series of standardized learning and teaching activities that may not really teach anything to children. However, project based learning ad teaching introduce an innovative mode of academics that kicks out perimeters of boredom and extreme apathy. Project based learning will also help children to engage their minds and apply their intellect towards an active learning process.

In this process, children become active participants in teaching, learning and sharing processes. In fact, your children can create their own pool of skills and knowledge. Children who undergo project based learning also become partners in building understanding and comprehension. These new learning processes also transform the basic relationship between evaluation and instruction. In nutshell, project based learning looks to change the present and universal teacher centered model to children centered model. Project based activity is an activity based module while the students actively take the responsibility for their own learning process.

Project based learning is a dynamic framework for learning that employs an inquiry based approach to provide answers to questions about any type of difficult subjects. These subjects are always useful and beneficial to children. Remember that project based learning may not come handy while learning easy, flexible and factual details or information. It is also a mode of evaluating pending issues and later equating them with real life situations. In most cases, project based learning process is:

  • A long term activity

  • Relevant to children and their mind-set

  • Is inter-disciplinary and seamless among different subjects

With project-based learning, your children can help themselves to enhance their motivational levels, work independently on their own, think in a critical manner, enhance memory and develop better research skills. Project based learning is always exciting and thrilling.

In a typical project based learning process, children can work in small groups and start learning about a particular topic or subject, all the while tackling real life problems and issues. In the end, these small groups can present their thoughts and learning bits in front of other members. This delicate process always involves making other members of the group know what their tutors taught them in the class.

A conventional classroom always relies on an experienced teacher directing and controlling the flow on information in the class. On the other hand, project based learning provides children an unlimited freedom and accessibility to explore issues in such a way that fits their learning requirements. Academicians and educational experts opine that project based learning will help children to:

  • Enhance their knowledge about a particular topic or subject.

  • Develop motivation to learn more

  • Enhance problem solving skills

  • Improve research skills

  • Create an awareness of how the learned skills come to use in a life like situation.

In a meaningful, project based learning scenario, children always try to answer queries and questions that are relevant to them. For example:

Here are some very simple questions:

  1. What is the source of food for this flowering plant? How do we make the plant grow quicker?

  2. How do we construct that garage? What are the best plans available?

  3. How to we design and create that birdhouse?

Once the classroom teacher poses these questions, children will form small groups or teams to work on the pending problem. Once they brainstorm different ideas and solutions, they will create a list of activities to pursue. Once they know their objectives, they can conduct research studies on the subject to design most plausible answers and solutions. Solving problems may involve tackling a number of closely related subjects at the same time. The time needed to complete the project depends on the nature and type of projects. It also depends on the level of difficulties encountered while solving the problem.

More often, project based learning system will involve three main phases like:

  • Discussing in detail about the project and collating information or details, which are already available to children will help children in many ways. Children may have some primary or basic information available about the subject.

  • As teams, children will start collecting required information and details from a number of sources and citations. Once they create a pool of research findings, they can analyze, evaluate and cull the required skills and knowledge from them.

  • Once the team members finish working on their research work, they can create a presentation that show how and what they learned during the second phase. Children can also learn and improve their presentation and team working skills with this process.

Continue to read Project-based Learning Part II.


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