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Project Based Learning – A Holistic Learning Approach

If we teach today’s students as we taught yesterday’s, we rob them of tomorrow.

-John Dewey

 

Learning involves trial and error, it takes many paths and is unique to each learner. When one looks at the skills needed to thrive today, tomorrow, and even beyond that, the learning methodology needs to match the demands of the real world.

Of late, it is being considered as enormously critical and profoundly symbiotic for students to make a productive transformation into balanced, well-rounded champions of the 21st century. Use of projects as a teaching tool is gaining traction around the world and is creating a revolution in how children learn. Project-Based Learning is a powerful pedagogy to enable deep learning. It is an instructional approach wherein students develop experience and abilities by engaging, exploring, and contributing to a genuine and challenging topic or question over an extended timeframe. It puts the physical and mental faculties of a child to use.

 

Since its inclusion in the school curriculum, Project-Based Learning has demonstrated to be one of the best ways of connecting with students and creating realistic experiences with what they are studying. It has proven to assist learners in developing important aptitudes as they complete each project and helps them go beyond latent textbook learning. More importantly, its seen to help students acquire information-based, technical skills that prepare them to take on the challenges of today and tomorrow. The principle thought behind Project-Based Learning is to instruct learners to build information and insight from various sources and employ different skills to manage the project.
Finally, the chalk and duster teaching methodology is slowly giving way to a more collaborative, research based, hands-on technique of teaching-learning.

To be competent, knowing just the ‘curriculum content’ is not enough. Learners need to be able to apply what they know in new and different situations, be able to create, think critically and apply complex reasoning to problem-solving. They need to learn to deal with failure and become resilient. These are the skills that hold premium in today’s world and will be the most vital skills in the world of the future. This is where PBL helps them.

Having said that, many a times, doing PBL with integrity is a complex process. While conducting PBL at school it was observed that often children are engaged in projects at a recall level which does not involve creating, problem-solving or critical analysis. The onus here lies on the instructor to not just offer resources for students to interact or lead their learning, but also demonstrate positive attributes that are important to their success. So, we make sure that educators identify, analyse, and clarify the objective of the project at the nascent stage itself. They make sure to keep the essence of PBL intact and seamlessly intertwine communication and collaboration, abstract reasoning, conducting research, interpersonal skills, and knowledge analysis organically with the PBL approach.

Since the project’s lesson is guided by the students instead of being conducted by the instructor’s teaching, so the instructor is to a greater degree a project supervisor rather than an educator. It urges students to become self-governing individuals and autonomous learners as rather than being shown the idea by the educator, students are required to pose inquiries to begin the project. We have been running such Projects successfully and take pride in seeing our students become self-dependent, critics, and problem solvers, all the while seeking feedbacks to further improve their skills. I can vouch for the fact that PBL has been one of the most profoundly transformational additions to the curriculum.

In addition, a few checkpoints should be put to place to ensure productivity. The schools can start with a transitory project about a subject that students can identify with. It might be a good idea to consider interpersonal relationships between the students before beginning the project. Also, evaluations should have positive and accurate inputs and to accomplish that, traditional evaluation devices may be clubbed with auto assessments, collaborative performance checklists, surveys, and questionnaires.

NEP, 2020 also lays particular emphasis on the development of the creative potential of each individual which includes development of both the ‘foundational capacities ’of ‘literacy and numeracy and higher-order’ cognitive capacities, such as critical thinking and problem solving. Project Based Learning has proved to be an effective tool to hone these capabilities of a child. As a result, PBL is rapidly gaining popularity all over the world and I am sure that it will prove to be a milestone step in bringing about a platonic change in how the education system is viewed and conducted, especially in India.