Project-based learning benefits students academically
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Learning is being compromised because high school students care more about their grades than actually learning the material. Students copy assignments to save time and their GPA. High school is the gateway to college and or real world jobs, so it is important to make sure students are absorbing everything that they are being taught. Teachers should focus on incorporating project-based learning (PBL) instead of relying solely on tests, because projects create well-rounded students and ensure that students retain material long-term.
Final exams count for a large portion of student’s grades. However, they allow students who do not show up to class to earn decent grades because tests can be pulled out of textbooks or from online sources. On the other hand, students who participate in class may do poorly, which will bring down their grade immensely.
There are a number of factors that dictate how a student will do on a test, such as how much sleep they got the night before, how long a student is able to sit for long periods of time or what mood they are in before beginning a test.
Social Studies teacher Beau Labore explained, “I value allowing students having multiple pathways to show what they know and what they know how to do. While there is a place for tests and final exams, there also has to be place for students to show their abilities.”
Labore has a semester final project for the students in his US History class. Instead of seeing who can memorize dates and people from the beginning of the semester, Labore allows students to chose a topic with a partner and present to the class about their research. This method allows students to expand on a previously learned topic and dig deeper into something that interests them. It also forces them to collaborate with their peers, which is an important life skill to have for the future. Other teachers should follow Labore’s example to help expands the skill set of students beyond test taking and begin to prepare them for more real-life experiences.
Research conducted by edutopia.org found that designing principles used to construct projects line up with the goals of bettering students interpersonal communications and higher level thinking skills. Higher-level thinking is not only the process of understanding information, but also being able to apply it.
Interpersonal communications skills will help students understand the concept of time management, collaboration, character building and organization. These skills are important to in almost every career that involves working with people. Being able to use higher level thinking to apply learned knowledge is also helpful for jobs, but that is not its only purpose. It allows students to not just memorize information for a test, but also remember the information because they are able to find real life scenarios to apply it to.
Research presented on bie.org explained, “Overall, publications report that nine of ten schools that implemented Expeditionary [project-based learning] Learning in 1993 demonstrated significant improvement in students’ test scores on standardized tests of academic achievement.”
People believe that it is important for students to practice taking tests as much as possible because tests such as the ACT and SAT are how colleges measure students success. On the contrary, this research proves that because projects engage students and help them understand the deeper meaning behind what they are learning, test scores are not affected by adding PBL to schools.
Labore added, “I think that the most important thing about project-based learning taking place is that it is taking place so that we have well-rounded students that are developing not only their knowledge of the content and skills that are important in school and in life.”
Labore is one teacher making a difference in students academic success and more should follow. Students will be able to transfer from the classroom to their future workplace smoothly with the implementation of PBL from their instructors. Students can only do so much to better themselves but with the help of teachers, schools will be able to provide their students with a higher level education.