Project-based learning (PBL) is a widely popular style of education that gives students ownership over their learning. In a project-based learning curriculum, students learn by working on projects that address real-world questions.
We interviewed Antonio, a high school student at Sora Schools, and his mother, Emily, to share why they love project-based learning.
Emily explains project-based learning this way:
Students choose a topic that interests them. In that project that they’ve chosen, it incorporates the skills that would be taught in a textbook, but they put into a real-life situation where they can problem-solve and actually use those skills.
I think it’s a really fun and interesting way for them to get their education. They’re doing projects instead of spouting out memorized information and then forgetting it.
In other words, project-based learning is far more than doing traditional school projects. Traditionally, teachers teach a topic through lectures, assigned readings, and assigned exercises to reinforce the material. Once the material has been taught, teachers may tack on a “dessert” project to cap off a unit. It’s non-essential to the “main course” of the learning process.
With PBL, projects are the learning process. Instead of sitting through a lecture or reading a textbook, students learn their course materials as they engage with real-world problems.
Project-Based Learning Expands Critical Thinking and Innovation Skills
Ever since Antonio began a project-based curriculum, Emily has seen a new spark in her son:
I’ve noticed how Antonio has bloomed. It’s gotten him excited about school and thinking outside of the box.
She explains how project-based learning taught him to think more flexibly and creatively:
It’s gotten him excited about school and thinking outside of the box. My son likes structure. I’ve always encouraged him, “Think beyond what you can see.” And I’ve been seeing him do that more. His instructors help him think in terms of guidelines instead of rules.
Project-based learning encourages students to not just enter the workforce but enter it with the mindset of: How can I do better? How can I step up? How can I innovate? How can I improve? It breaks them out of the mindset of, “This is what I’m told to do.”
Project-Based Learning Fosters Motivation to Learn
Antonio loves to learn from his peers by discussing their projects. This exchange has stimulated a newfound motivation for his academics:
I’m excited to hear what my peers are doing with their projects. How much progress have they made? What are they planning to do with their projects? I like to ask them, “Hey could you teach me more about this topic in your free time?” That’s one of my big motivators for projects.
A lot of my classmates like to build things. A few students were also interested in designing things, which is what I like to do. So I like how it’s different for each person. I’m not only learning about what I’m mainly interested in but also about what my peers are doing. It makes me really excited to learn.
Emily sees this new motivation too. She describes how project-based learning uses students’ own curiosity as fuel for their learning:
It’s something they’re choosing. It’s a spark of interest that turns into a learning process. Each project builds on the last, giving them the skills they need for success.
Project-Based Learning Is Perfect For Career Prep
The real-world nature of project-based learning naturally lends itself to career prep. Students’ projects can serve as playgrounds where they freely explore topics and skills related to their dream jobs. This process can be optimized when students have access to experts in their field of interest to guide them in their career-related projects.
For Antonio, this is the highlight of project-based learning’s potential:
You’re talking to someone who’s an expert in their field, and that’s how you know it’s legit. You can trust what they’re saying is real. A science teacher isn’t necessarily a scientist. A science teacher is someone who teaches the basics of science. Learning from someone who is in the job itself–they can guide you through the process of becoming an expert in your field as well.
Project-Based Learning Delivers Results
Project-based learning doesn’t just make learning more interesting and engaging. Education research reports project-based learning’s positive impact on students’ learning outcomes.
Compared to students learning from a traditional school model, PBL students remembered the content they learned for longer periods of time. They also tended to match or outperform traditional students’ scores on high-stakes tests.
Sora and Project-Based Learning
Sora is an innovative, fully-accredited online school that implements project-based learning as its primary mode of instruction. Its mission is to fuel students’ love for learning and accelerate them toward their wildest dreams.
Antonio is one among many students who have discovered new passions through Sora’s flexible, customizable project-based learning experience.
If you’d like to learn more about this exciting online school program, click here to register for a virtual coffee chat with Sora Admissions.