Why you should experiment with Project-based learning

Published: June 7th, 2021

The skills that we need to equip students with are changing, along with the world around them. So, teaching needs to evolve at the same time. Emergent teaching strategies may blend subjects together and are just as focused on a student’s ability to collaborate and solve problems as their ability to memorise subject matter.

It’s clearer than ever that young people need to leave school with strong interpersonal skills as well as knowledge of curriculum subjects such as English, Maths and Science. This can include communicative skills, strong media literacy proficiency and a sturdy sense of self-determination.

This is where ‘Project-based learning’, or ‘PBL’ comes in – it’s a great way to structure lesson activities differently to maximise skills development as well as traditional academic attainment.

What is Project-based learning?

Project-based learning blurs the boundaries that have accompanied traditional curriculum delivery. With PBL, students are still learning different subjects, but are able to apply critical thinking. This holistic teaching method revolves around assignments that are based in the real world. It puts a focus on hands-on work that allows students to dictate the direction of the project outcome. At the same time, it spotlights students’ ability to use transferable skill sets across different areas.

For example, a PBL lesson on an event during World War II might include learning about history or geography, writing journal entries, or working in a group to create a radio show report. This PBL lesson would help strengthen communication, creativity, and critical thinking skills. In combination with traditional school subjects, PBL better prepares students to use the skills needed for success in modern and future workplaces.

That’s not to say that schools should do away entirely with curriculum-based learning. Like any teaching, a variety of lesson types and activities is one of the best ways to keep students engaged. So, why not try planning a few project-based activities across the course of a week, where different topics have a clear crossover?

For more ideas on how you can help students develop their social and interpersonal skills in the classroom, take a look at our recent blog post: ‘Top tips for supporting social learning in the classroom’.