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Project Based and Problem Based Learning Summary

(Learning Topic #1.1: Project Based and Problem Based Learning)

By Elizabeth A. Hustead

A Paper Presented in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for Course EDTC 614: Integrating Technology into the Curriculum

Regis University

November 2, 2010

Project Based Learning: Goals and Strategies of a Problem-based Learning Facilitator

Problem-based learning is primarily a collaborative style of learning to allow selfdirected student learning that leads to deeper meaning for the students. The biggest challenge for the teacher with this style of learning is to guide the students in solving problems and reflecting on their progress without telling them what to do. Teachers have many goals to attempt to reach as they strive to help their students achieve high standards and retain the learning for a lifetime. They need to fulfill the content and technology standards and integrate all the knowledge and skills expected for that subject area. Rather than giving the students endless facts and information for them to try to memorize, the teacher needs to be able to question every answer the student gives to encourage them to think, evaluate, and problem solve for themselves. This leads to clarification of the meaning and the ability of the student to realize there is more than one way to solve a problem. Eventually, the questioning techniques will be figured out by the students due to the modeling done by the teacher and will create new learning, a tangent, that may never have been expected from the teacher. Open-minded students will be able to take this information and run; creating a new level of understanding in the end. Allowing the students this freedom to learn, allows the teacher to reach all the standards more easily. When students want to learn, because it is fun and exciting, they are more likely to reach the high standards desired by the teacher and the community. According to Hmelo-Silver and Barrows (2006), inquiry teachers have higher expectations and teach the students how to ask questions, use various methods of research, test theories, and analyze their results. In doing this, the cooperative groups of students achieve a higher level of learning because they have been encouraged to strive for a deeper meaning of knowledge, not just the facts.

Problem-based learning encourages the teacher to facilitate only and the students to drive their own active learning. The student groups help with this by allowing brainstorming and collaboration with each of the students to problem solve and review as they progress until they reach the final goal. If the teacher does his job well enough, he will eventually be able to pull back and watch the learning happen.

Project-based Learning: Students Thrive on Cooperation and Problem Solving

Project-based Learning (PBL) is used to help students see what it is like to work in the real world. The goal is to teach them how to work in collaborative groups just like committees at work, critical thinking, problem solving and needless to say, and high achievement of standards. According to Bob Pearlman (2006), real PBL involves technology, rigorous and complex thinking, and it is all integrated with cross-curricular contents and standards. Students enjoy PBL, because it is relevant and often times the content is chosen by them because it is of interest to them. This allows immediate buy in. When working on one of these multi-week projects, the students will use many different learning strategies, they will reflect, demonstrate, evaluate, document, and collaborate. Through all of the various forms of learning, they will be able to cover all the content and technology standards and then some, as they complete the project. As students work on these projects, the teachers main job is to act as an expert or mentor to the groups. This type of learning is student-centered, not teacher-centered. As the project is progressing, feedback is needed every so often from the teacher, other staff, or even community members. This allows for more relevant ideas and constructive criticism. Once again, this is more realistic of the real world.

Project-based learning is a method that uses many of Marzanos strategies; everything from feedback, hypotheses, reflection, communication, and many more. When students are challenged to complete a project that allows for all of Marzanos strategies to be used, using deeper thinking skills, and becoming independent learners, not only have they achieved the standards expected, they will have been trained to be life -long learners. What more could you ask for? Classroom Use I really like project-based learning. It is more student-driven and less teacher-driven. I feel when students have to create a project using all the previous knowledge and adding new with their own hands, they will understand the theories and retain the knowledge. For example, in my advanced creative foods class, students have to create a plan, choose jobs, create a meal plan, order, budget, prepare, decorate, and serve 30 50 guests from the community. This takes nearly four weeks to complete and all I do is explain the process, help them choose their executive chef and watch and learn. They demonstrate their knowledge by doing the catering project. If someone does not know a technique, they are to ask their executive chef. That person is the only one that can ask me questions. By the end of the project, they are amazed at how much they know and how well they did. They reflect on the process daily and again at the end. The content standards are demonstrated throughout this project, but so are standards from math, science, and english. I truly believe if the teacher prepares the students for a project-based or a problem-based learning experience by teaching them questioning techniques, planning and management techniques, relevancy, as well as the desire to do well, the student will learn far more than they would in a traditional style classroom situation.

References Hmelo-Silver, C. E., & Barrows, H. S. (2006, Spring). Goals and strategies of a problem-based learning facilitator. The Interdisciplinary Journal of Problem-based Learning, 1(1), 2139. Retrieved from Mitchell, S., Foulger, T. S., Wetzel, K. W., & Rathkey, C. (2008, December 2). The negotiated project approach: project-based learning without leaving the standards behind. Early Childhood Education Journal, 10.1007/s10643-008-0295-7. Retrieved from Pearlman, B. (2006, October 18). Students thrive on cooperation and problem solving. Retrieved from The George Lucas Educational Foundation website: node/2704