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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Why Teach with Project-Based Learning?: Providing Students With a Well-Rounded Classroom Experience

Project-based learning helps students apply what they learn to real-life experiences and provides an all-around enriching education.
By Edutopia
Edutopia Team
VIDEO: Project-Based Learning: An Overview

Project learning, also known as project-based learning, is a dynamic approach to teaching in which students explore real-world problems and challenges, simultaneously developing cross-curriculum skills while working in small collaborative groups.

Because project-based learning is filled with active and engaged learning, it inspires students to obtain a deeper knowledge of the subjects they're studying. Research also indicates that students are more likely to retain the knowledge gained through this approach far more readily than through traditional textbook-centered learning. In addition, students develop confidence and self-direction as they move through both team-based and independent work.

In the process of completing their projects, students also hone their organizational and research skills, develop better communication with their peers and adults, and often work within their community while seeing the positive effect of their work.

Because students are evaluated on the basis of their projects, rather than on the comparatively narrow rubrics defined by exams, essays, and written reports, assessment of project-based work is often more meaningful to them. They quickly see how academic work can connect to real-life issues -- and may even be inspired to pursue a career or engage in activism that relates to the project they developed.

Students also thrive on the greater flexibility of project learning. In addition to participating in traditional assessment, they might be evaluated on presentations to a community audience they have assiduously prepared for, informative tours of a local historical site based on their recently acquired expertise, or screening of a scripted film they have painstakingly produced.

Project learning is also an effective way to integrate technology into the curriculum. A typical project can easily accommodate computers and the Internet, as well as interactive whiteboards, global-positioning-system (GPS) devices, digital still cameras, video cameras, and associated editing equipment.

Adopting a project-learning approach in your classroom or school can invigorate your learning environment, energizing the curriculum with a real-world relevance and sparking students' desire to explore, investigate, and understand their world. Return to our Project Learning page to learn more.

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ajantha's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I do hope the contents are really useful to any educator who explores new learning and how to integrate ICT in learning and teaching for better results.

Becky's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Technology integration is what makes project learning "pop". Children are engaged in learning in order to "present" project results. No matter how it is downplayed, competition drives children to have the best technological project results. I like it!

John Peters's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Students have the skills to participate in Project Based Learning projects. They are already skilled at embedding videos, photos, widgets, etc into their MySpace and Facebook accounts.

We just have to take those existing skills and show them how to use them on a collaborative project and you will be amazed at what they can produce if given the chance.

Kim's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I must admit to being completely intrigued by the concept of project-based learning. It is so true that learning with a purpose is learning at its very best. Curriculum geared towards the interests of our students is so much more relevant and worthwhile. This approach would also provide a sustained learning experience, teaching children to "stick with it" to the end and see the fruits of all their efforts.

This approach seems totally adaptable to learners of all ages as well. As a second grade teacher, that is really exciting to me.

ELizabeth's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

This article has really gotten me excited about all the possibilties of teaching. I found this to be quit informative. I have found through personal experience in my classroom that students do preform better in class, and are engaged more when they are working in cooperative groups. I have also seen ways to improve the use of these groups. I agree with the statement made above about being able to contour projects based on the students needs. Would literature groups also be included in this project-based learning? One of the teachers in my school does a new project for each novel they read, once they made a brochure, took a ceral box and designed it based on the components of a story, and now they are making wind shoots (not really sure what they are called). These students are getting a deeper understanding of novel. I think that it has to be a useful tool. This article really sparked my interest for making lesson more project- based.

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