Walking into one of the learning spaces at Bethania Lutheran School in Queensland, it’s apparent that these are quite different to those of the past. Gone are the days of desks and chairs in a row, a chalk board at the front, and the dependence on snail mail to exchange ideas.
Today, this is replaced with real world experiences and collaboration happening right in the palm of the student’s hands, and with that comes a great opportunity for a different kind of teacher-led instruction, one that is actually not teacher-led, but instead is teacher-facilitated.
It’s called ‘project based learning,’ or PBL. Though PBL has been around since the early 20th century, Bethania’s teachers of today are finding it a very useful tool in their ever-growing tool kit.
PBL expands on the popular educational theory that students learn best by experiencing real world problems and working together to find solutions. Bethania said it gives its students a chance to critically and creatively think, and develop problem solving skills that they can use beyond the school gates, once they enter the real world.
Teachers are able to give students an authentic real world problem or challenge that drives the learning. Teachers rarely hear “Why do I need to know this?” Instead, they work together and solve a problem by applying the knowledge they learn along the way. The project may take days, weeks or even months as they encounter and overcome challenges, by designing and redesigning solutions.
But PBL at Bethania definitely isn’t just slapped together. Teachers attend professional development sessions, and collaboration takes place. It’s very carefully scaffolded, includes multiple subjects and is assessed accordingly.
Research indicates that students involved with project based learning
- Become more engaged, self directed learners
- Learn more deeply and can transfer their learning to new situations
- Improve problem solving and collaboration skills
According to Bethania Lutheran School, Project Based Learning is a way to reach all students and get them engaged to work towards a creative goal.