|AM-002| What is PBL?

Hello Exam Seekers,

Today we’re talking about an approach that is known as PBL, which stands for Project-Based Learning. The topics mentioned in the text will be concerning the characteristics and benefits of this approach, the steps of a PBL lesson, and also the difference between projects and PBL.


What is PBL?

Project-Based Learning is an approach which focuses on the development of critical thinking through problem-solving and hands-on learning. It has lots to do with inquiry-based learning and experiential learning as well. Also, this approach is entirely aligned with the 21st Century skills.

The central aspect of this type of lesson is that students need to come up with a solution to real problems, which makes learning way more meaningful and relevant.

In this approach, students are the centre of the lesson, becoming more independent learners and also more in charge of their learning. With PBL, students are exposed to real problems and asked to come up with a practical solution for it. Therefore, more than learning about concepts and theory, students put all the theoretical aspect into practice. Also, PBL helps develop not only critical thinking but also collaboration and creativity, as students usually work together and collaborate with each other.



Steps for a PBL lesson

First, there are a couple of things to take into account when preparing a PBL lesson. The aim is to have students work together to solve a problem. Therefore, all steps considered should have this the involvement of students in mind. Since this approach focuses on the learner’s autonomy, it is essential for the teacher to be in the place of a guide, monitoring and helping students if need be.

While planning the lesson, here are the stages that you should include:

  • An open-ended question, a challenge or a problem;
  • Brainstorm with students to check what they already know on the matter;
  • Students work in groups, in order to develop communication, collaboration, critical thinking, creativity, etc;
  • Students get to choose what path they want to take through the project;
  • Students create the project;
  • Teacher and group gives feedback and review the plan;
  • Students present their ideas.

Something to bear in mind is that students are also asked to reflect on their performance and to assess themselves regarding their production, things they would change and all. Rather than having a teacher showing what was right or wrong, students have a voice to expose what they considered good or not and think about changes for that.

Also, when presenting their solution, learners can use a variety of options to do so. More than preparing a power point presentation, students can use other technological devices or even build something to show their product at the end of the lessons.


How are projects different from the PBL approach?

To start, it is not as if there was no project in the PBL approach. After all, PBL stands for project-based learning. Therefore, projects integrate it. However, it is more than projects. Rather than having it at the end of a unit, the lessons revolve around the project, with it being included in the process instead of the product only. Also, the students have more independence and the learning happens throughout the projects which are based on a real example.

Regarding projects, students can develop them both in class or at home, on their own, without the presence of the teacher even. What is more, the focus is on the product, which tends to happen after the learning took place. Besides that, working with projects is more teacher-centred, while PBL, on the other hand, is student-centred, since they will be guiding the path of the class and project.


What else do you know about the PBL approach? Do you have any further questions concerning this topic? Do you have any experience with PBL? Share with us! We would love to hear from you in the comments below!

Have a great weekend,
Eve and Patty.

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