Project - Based Learning
Project-Based Learning (PBL)
PBL is a learning model that has been recognized as an effective teaching method for many years (Thomas 2000; Chard 1998; Howard 2002; Mifflin 2003). It is centralized around projects that are defined as complex real-world tasks, based on challenging problems that require design, problem solving, decision making, and creativity. Students are expected to work on such projects over extended period of times with minimal directions from the teacher.
Thomas (2000) presented five distinguishing features (criteria) for PBL in an attempt to address the confusion with what constitutes a PBL and what does not. The five criteria are centrality, driving question, constructive investigations, autonomy, and realism. These five criteria lead to the following understanding of PBL: Projects are part of the curriculum in which students learn core concepts. Projects are not used for merely illustration nor are used to enrich students with knowledge outside the curriculum. The above criteria distinguish between an exercise and a project, the problem to be investigated must be complex enough to drive students to inquire, build new knowledge, and resolve conflict. The mere application of already learned knowledge or skills is not considered a project but rather an exercise. In PBL, students must feel autonomous without directions and direct supervision from the teacher who really is considered just as a facilitator. Projects should not have a predetermined outcome nor follow a predetermined path. A project must resemble a real-world problem that is authentic (not simulation) capable of being transformed and implemented.
In project studies, solving distinct problems, studying in a group and finding solutions might attract student attention. In projects, students might acquire knowledge and learn and implement concepts and principles. They also have to plan a study and monitor their progress as well as evaluate solutions. All these factors indicate the benefits of PBL to the learning process. However, the literature contains some studies that argue that there are some problems with this approach even though it increases learning and motivation. According to many researchers (Ruenglertpanyakul et al 2012, Rahman et al 2012, Erdem 2012., Ozden et al 2009, Alacapinar 2008), these problems resulted from the fact that projects were developed without making the necessary evaluations for motivation and knowledge, the selected problems were not appropriate for students and the class administration was inadequate.