Project-based learning, or PBL, is a hands-on teaching style that emphasises student ownership of content and the process of learning. It is a popular approach to teaching because it develops “21st-century skills” such as communication, collaboration, and critical thinking.
The approach follows the concept that learning is not an end in itself, but a process of going from one project to another.
While project-based learning is especially popular with primary and high schools, it’s also commonly applied in university settings. Keep reading to find out more about how project-based learning can help uni students build confidence and set themselves on a path towards success.
Project-Based Learning: A Quick History And Definition
Project-based learning’ is a student-centred approach to education in which students learn about their world and themselves through authentic, meaningful, and often hands-on experiences.
PBL has been around for decades. One of the earliest known advocates for this type of teaching was John Dewey, who wrote extensively on the subject in the early 1900s.
Dewey’s ideas were revolutionary—but it would be another 20 years before project-based teaching became popularised. David Hestenes first experimented with PBL in the 1960s at the University of Arizona, bringing widespread recognition to the approach.
In the 1990s, reformers from different disciplines joined the experiential learning movement and created some principles for project-based education, establishing organisations and governing bodies like the International Association for Experiential Education.
Project-Based Learning Benefits For Uni Students
For university students, project-based learning offers opportunities for hands-on experience and builds confidence in the learner by building an innate sense of accomplishment.
In the career sphere, PBL also builds job prospects. Employers are more likely to hire candidates who have hands-on experience and knowledge highly applicable to their desired field of work.
PBL has also proven successful in promoting individual responsibility and ownership among students while also encouraging teamwork and collaboration. As such, it’s a fantastic way for teachers to create a more engaging and involved classroom experience.
University-Level Pbl Examples
When you think about project-based learning, you might envision a typical class project like building a model of a solar system or investigating and reporting on a current event. But there are actually a broad variety of ways teachers can apply the PBL pedagogy, such as:
- Preparing a video presentation to promote a fundraising cause, teaching viewers about the organisation and how to donate;
- Researching proofs of a mathematical theorem and presenting the findings in a website or oral presentation;
- Creating a plan for boosting sustainability and environmental consciousness in the local community;
- Designing and building a scale model of a city, implementing cleaner, greener approaches.
So, What’s The Answer?
To answer the overarching question in this article—yes, project-based learning is more than suitable for university students. In fact, it’s highly beneficial!
In almost all cases, PBL is a more engaging approach to learning than traditional methods, helping improve student retention and participation rates. University students who participate in PBL activities are also more likely to perform well in class, providing them with a fantastic head start in their careers.