We were asked to research some articles on the effectiveness of project-based learning in diverse classrooms. I found multiple articles, many even dating back into the early 1990’s. Project-based learning has clearly been around for some time. In the article I found by English and Kitsantas (2013), the abstract states:
Students must take responsibility for the learning process by setting goals, monitoring, reflecting, and sustaining their motivation from the beginning of the project until the end. However, for many students, these processes do not occur naturally or easily. Therefore, the learning environment and teaching practices in PBL must be designed with intention to support students’ self-regulated learning (SRL).
The authors suggest in this article (and cite other research) that the challenges teachers find are that many students do not possess the motivation “to learn and be able to focus their efforts and attention appropriately, monitor and evaluate their progress, and seek help as needed” (English & Kitsantas, 2013).
The authors outline a multi-phase process to teach students how to take responsibility in their learning to be self-regulated learners:
Through Phase 1 (Project/Problem Launch), a well-crafted driving question, clearly stated learning goals, launcher activities, and activities that support skills of goal setting and self-motivation. During Phase 2 (Inquiry and Product/Solution Creation), the teacher supports the students by employing techniques that make students’ thinking visible, such as whiteboarding, formative assessments, journaling, and prompts for explanation. Further, the teacher should interact with and guide students, encourage searching, asking for reflections, and providing additional support as needed. Phase 3 (Conclusion) activities include presentations, role plays, poster sessions, pin-up sessions, and gallery walks- anything that facilitates reflection. Reflections is a a key point in the learning process and through all three phases of PBL and provides an opportunity for students to engage in thinking about their learning outcomes in relation to their goals, to identify the strategies and resources worked well and those that didn’t, and to determine what questions they still have.
From this article I learned that PBL is a great tool for students to learn from but there IS a learning to curve to the execution both on the part of the teacher and the students. If I were to start implementing PBL into my classroom intensely, I would really consider starting small. Students are not use to thinking for themselves, after all don’t we all love a very detailed rubric? Giving students to create their own learning environment is daunting and scary unless very clear goals are written and adhered to.
English, M. C. , & Kitsantas, A. (2013). Supporting student self-regulated learning in problem- and project-based learning. Interdisciplinary Journal of Problem-Based Learning, 7(2).
Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.7771/1541-5015.1339
Week 2 Assignment
This week we were instructed to search for sample PBL projects online. We were asked to keep three criteria in mind:
Identify some common features among projects that you examined.
Share one PBL project that you were able to locate during your search.
Explain why you like this project, and how you might be able to adapt it for your own use.
I found and chose this project to share: Caution! Dangerous Situations Ahead.
I found multiple projects on BIE.org that looked interesting to me however the projects I loved the most seemed to come from Teach21 (http://wveis.k12.wv.us/teach21). Some common features I found:
- Clearly written objectives
- Common Core standards linked
- Target audience identified
- Evidence that objectives are met
- Know/Do section
- Materials needed
- Resources are all linked
- Downloadable materials (worksheets, rubrics, etc.)
I really appreciated the projects that required a reflection log as a way to make students think about what they did and what they learned/observed. I believe that connections are made when we are required to write. There was an old adage years ago about ways to remember things: read, write, and recite. There is so much truth to this.
My teaching experience is with elementary students. I found and chose this project to share: Caution! Dangerous Situations Ahead. I like this particular project because it connects and utilizes 5th grade buddies to work with and guide the project. This gives the 1st grade students a one-to-one instructor, which allows the teacher more time to work with those that are struggling or to do informal assessments. While there is a lot of prep work involved, the author of this particular project has done an excellent job outlining everything needed and all the downloads embedded into the website.
While I am not currently teaching I have found (from past experience) that younger students really enjoy working with other students and look up to them in a way that isn’t evident in many other classroom situations. An instant bond of trust is formed and the younger students really thrive with an older buddy. The younger children still have the independence and freedom to make choices but the guidance comes from the older children to stay on task. Students unfamiliar with project-based learning might not understand how to work independently. By pairing with older buddies, the students learn the process through basic modeling.
Caution! Dangerous Situations Ahead! http://wveis.k12.wv.us/teach21/public/project/Guide.cfm?upid=3414&tsele1=4&tsele2=101