Implementing Project-Based Learning in the Classroom

No matter the topic, educators and curriculum directors with advanced curriculum and instruction degrees are uniquely situated to oversee the implementation of project-based learning (PBL) in the classroom. PBL produces involved and autonomous learners. It is an approach to education and learning that engages students with a problem, question or challenge. By investigating and solving the problem, students receive hands-on learning experiences and gain practical skills and knowledge.

The online Master of Education (M.Ed.) – Curriculum & Instruction program from Eastern Washington University (EWU) can provide professionals with the knowledge and skills to enhance student achievement by using PBL in the classroom. Adapting curricula and instructional strategies to meet the diverse learning needs of today’s students is essential for any educator or curriculum director.

What is Project-Based Learning?

PBL involves having students tackle real-world problems or questions for several weeks. The teacher’s role is to incorporate appropriate instruction and guidance while students conduct research, learn skills and content, think critically, solve problems and work in groups. Sometimes called discovery learning or experiential learning, PBL is inquiry-based to assist students in seeking information and acquiring solutions. It builds critical thinking, collaborative communication and creative problem-solving skills. Students have opportunities for feedback, which help them revise, modify and improve their approaches.

PBL is effective because it helps students develop essential abilities in writing, reading and math while improving their research techniques and skills for information gathering, problem-solving, time management and technology usage.

The activities involved in PBL classrooms make subjects pertinent to the students’ real-life experiences. Coursework is more than passive facts memorized for tests. This student-centered approach reinforces the practice of improving and refining a project while understanding that real-world problems are uncertain and complex. This learning philosophy can prepare students for careers that value creativity, collaboration and critical thinking.

Recent studies from Lucas Education Research found PBL to be an effective learning strategy for all students. Students in classes that use PBL outperformed those exposed to traditional curricula across all grade levels and socioeconomic groups.

Benefits of Project-Based Learning

This powerful teaching method has many proven benefits, including improved test scores, classroom engagement, attendance, self-confidence, project management and problem-solving skills. Teachers also reported better relationships with students when the instructors acted as facilitators rather than lecturers. Students learn from research while developing essential life skills.

Some benefits of the PBL method include:

  • Engagement. When deeply involved with a topic, students retain information more easily. Students are motivated to find a meaningful outcome to their proposed problem and understand the process.
  • Collaboration. Students learn how to work collaboratively within a group during PBL activities. They learn how to listen, provide input, resolve conflicts and build relationships.
  • Critical thinking. Students are encouraged to approach a problem by asking questions and proposing multiple solutions while working with others.
  • Self-confidence. Students can share ideas and take pride in their work once they’ve found their voices.
  • Time management. The lessons learned during a PBL assignment can successfully translate to other tasks and projects.

EWU’s online M.Ed. – Curriculum & Instruction program offers multiple start dates and affordable tuition. If you want to establish a safe and positive student-centered learning environment, this degree program may suit you. Completing the coursework can prepare you for opportunities as an instructional coach or curriculum personnel.

Learn more about EWU’s online Master of Education – Curriculum and Instruction program.

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