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The Power of Project Based Learning

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What is Project Based Learning?

Edutopia defines Project Based Learning (PBL) as “a dynamic classroom approach in which students actively explore real-world problems and challenges and acquire transferable knowledge.” In a PBL setting, teachers guide students through a structured process that involves identifying a complex question, conducting research, and collaboratively developing a solution or presentation.

Why should I incorporate PBL into my teaching?

Engagement & Autonomy

Studies demonstrate that PBL can be motivating for students and improve their attitudes toward learning (Thomas, 2000). By allowing students to choose projects that resonate with their passions and curiosity, PBL taps into intrinsic motivation, making the learning experience more meaningful.

This approach empowers students to take ownership of their education, fostering a sense of autonomy and responsibility. Allie Wong,  Lead National Faculty at PBLWorks, reflects on her experience with PBL as a student, “Instead of being told how the problem should be solved, we were given voice and choice to create novel and creative solutions…I saw myself as a leader whose voice mattered because I worked among other leaders on a real issue and my creative contributions were valued.”

Detroit teacher Allie Langwald discovered how PBL empowered her students to be leaders when she entered them in a contest that required her students to identify a solution to a real-world problem using STEM. “This hands-on education not only caused my class to think about who they are as students and citizens of the world, but also forced me to reevaluate myself and who I am as an educator. The kids got to witness firsthand their power to make change in the world, which is an intangible confidence source for students who truly need it.”

21st Century Skills

As students analyze information, synthesize ideas, and make informed decisions throughout the project, PBL cultivates 21st century skills such as creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, communication, and confidence. An in-depth analysis by Microsoft Partners in Learning and The Pearson Foundation showed that developing 21st-century skills is associated with a higher work quality later in life. In short, PBL promotes critical thinking.

The collaborative nature of PBL helps students to develop their effective communication skills because it requires them to articulate their thoughts, share perspectives, and present their findings to peers and even broader audiences. Wong, who practiced PBL as a student, shares how it grew her collaboration skills. “…I had to communicate that to my classmates clearly, and in a way that was compassionate, comprehensible, and inclusive. I had to build consensus among the group and ignite a passion toward a shared vision.”

Equity and Closing the Achievement Gap

PBL can serve as a more equitable approach to learning. One study of more than 2,000 third-grade students found that students engaged in PBL outperformed their peers across socioeconomic status and reading level. 

PBL values different perspectives, encourages varied modes of expression, and allows for differentiated learning experiences. Moreover, since PBL often addresses real-world issues, it offers students from underrepresented communities the chance to see the relevance of their education in their lives, fostering a sense of belonging and purpose.

Turn Project Based Learning into Podject Based Learning!

We understand how intimidating it can be to jump into a new model of teaching; that’s why TinkerClass has made incorporating Project Based Learning into your classroom as easy as…

1, 2, 3, 4 OR Listen, Wonder, Tinker, Make! 

TinkerClass podjects [podcasts + projects] combine engaging, WOW-inspiring podcast episodes with an experiment or engineering design project. With TinkerClass, you can choose to follow a guided podject or make your own! TinkerClass has built-in tools and guided prompts that support both group and independent work and streamline project based learning for you and your students. And teachers that use TinkerClass are seeing great results!

  • Student engagement was high across TinkerClass sections and activities with around 80% of students engaged or very engaged when participating in TinkerClass.
  • 40% of educators said TinkerClass was extremely effective in supporting students’ creativity
  • 3 out of 5 educators said TinkerClass was very effective in supporting students’ confidence
  • Teacher testimonials indicate that TinkerClass supported lower level learners and put their students on a level playing field

Signup for FREE at TinkerClass.com and start experiencing the benefits of Podject Based Learning with your students!