Project-Based Learning Dynamics
Project-based learning (PBL) is a model that reaches far beyond traditional classroom instruction methods and allows students to approach tasks as they would real-life problems.
When a student graduates from school or university, they are equipped with the skills to receive, memorize, and paraphrase material. While these are essential for helping students to pass school and college exams, PBL aims to equip students with skills that will allow them to identify challenges and find solutions in real-world situations.
In a usual project-based learning process, the teacher introduces an open case to the classroom. Here is a good example:
A woman with type AB blood gives birth to a child with blood type O. Six years later she gives birth to a second type-O child.
This case appears to contradict Mendelian inheritance, which the students will be obliged to thoroughly review, but it also demands that they examine of meiosis, gametogenesis, fertilization, and early development in order to propose some credible explanatory mechanisms.
From here, the next step involves a brainstorm process that includes the whole classroom. In that process, students will come up with facts (what they know), ideas (related thoughts and hypotheses), learning issues (what they need to know more about) and actions (what they need to do). Here is where GoConqr comes into play as its Mind Mapping tool is the perfect resource to structure this brainstorming process in a coherent and visually compelling way.
Next, students will break up in small groups of 4 or 5 in order to do some research and move towards a common solution. GoConqr can easily facilitate this kind of collaboration through its Study Groups option, which offers a number of functions that foster collaborative learning, such as:
- Discussion threads
- Resource sharing
Finally, a project-based learning process finishes with a group presentation in which students must sum up their learning. In this regard, GoConqr’s Slides offer a great variety of pre-designed templates that allow for the inclusion of media elements to support their findings such as videos, images, Mind Maps, Flashcards, Notes and Quizzes.
As we can see in this case study carried out by the Georgia Institute of Technology, most issues related to project-based learning boil down to student freedom. Students’ rates of progression may seem slow. Some students might even struggle to stay on-target. In addition, teachers unfamiliar with PBL might lose confidence and feel they are no longer in charge of students’ learning.
Tackling those common issues is easy with GoConqr. In order to do so, teachers must monitor the progress of each Study Group so they can intervene if and when necessary.
That intervention can take several forms. For instance, they could start a discussion thread or drop hints by sharing study resources. In the previous example, the teacher could share a deck of Flashcards about meiosis so that students could identify any areas they may need to address or improve upon.
Project-Based Learning Implementation
Thousands of teachers around the world are already using GoConqr’s tool to put PBL into action following a similar approach to the one discussed above.
Interested in joining them? According to Suzzie Boss, an international consultant on PBL and GoConqr user: “I encourage PBL newcomers to start small with a short-term project. They might redesign a unit they already teach into PBL, or adapt an existing project.”