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A Project vs. Project-Based Learning

Monday 27 August 2018, by JMC

The difference between a Project and Project-Based Learning

In industrial education, knowing and doing are typically separate. Inculcating young minds with more information is the clear priority; applying knowledge is a distant second. Therefore a project is usually designed as a reward or an opportunity for learners to demonstrate what they’ve learnt at the end of the year, rather than as an integral part of the learning process.

By contrast, PBL integrates knowing and doing. Learners absorb knowledge and elements of the core curriculum, but also apply what they know to solve authentic problems and produce results that matter. As in the real world, it’s often difficult to distinguish between acquiring information and using it. Learners focus on a problem or challenge, work in teams to find a solution to the problem, and exhibit their work to an adult audience at the end of the project.

Additionally, PBL emphasizes carefully planned assessment that incorporates formative feedback and multiple evaluations of not just knowledge but also 21st century skills. This system highlights one great advantage of PBL in today’s teaching environment: It offers teachers the opportunity to teach, observe, and measure the growth of real world skills. To succeed at PBL, learners must practice and demonstrate the exact skills necessary in life, the workplace, and in any environment requiring self-starting, self-managing, and skilful individuals. In fact, PBL can be defined as an extended learning process that uses inquiry and challenge to stimulate the growth and mastery of skills.

Finally, PBL refocuses education on the learner, not the curriculum-a shift mandated by the global world, which rewards intangible assets such as drive, passion, creativity, empathy, and resiliency. These cannot be taught out of a textbook, but must be activated through experience. PBL can offer that kind of necessary experience to young people.

The chart below outlines some of the key differences between the two approaches:JPEG