Project Based Learning in Higher education


How can higher education institutes prepare their students for the upcoming challenges and prospects they would run into, professionally? Prior studies suggest that constant exposure to project-based learning that includes high-impact practices is the solution.

The old-school style of passive learning that includes knowing facts and narrating them out of context is no more enough to prepare students to thrive in today’s environment. By introducing real-life perspective and technology in the existing curriculum by adopting a project-based learning (PBL) approach; learners can be encouraged to turn out to be independent workers, analytical thinkers, and constant learners. Tutors can also communicate with overseers, exchange innovative ideas with fellow tutors/subject matter experts, in the course of breaking down indistinguishable barriers, for example, isolation of the lecture hall, fear of undertaking an unfamiliar course, and lack of affirmation of attaining success. PBL is not only a method of learning but also a process of working collaboratively. If learners can understand how to take accountability for their learning, they will be able to form the groundwork for the way they would work with their colleagues in their professional lives.

Why does PBL matter in Higher Education?

Project-Based Learning (PBL) includes altering the roles that learners and faculty might be used to, removing them from their comfort zones in different ways. However, such transformations are always challenging, but prior researches have revealed that PBL along with other high-impact exercises leads to improved learning benefit for students as compared to conventional instruction processes. Research evidence divulges the fact that this kind of learning process can assist all types of students concerning the development of critical thinking skills, problem-solving attitudes, communication, collaboration, and teamwork. The Gallup-Purdue Study of the year 2014 showed that completing an important project work during college is highly correlated to improved career opportunities and a higher degree of life satisfaction.

In a curriculum where students are guided instead of being thoroughly directed by tutors, students learn to take charge of their learning processes by handling tangible, open-ended issues encountered by people in real-life. In this way, students get the opportunity to develop important skills and competencies, as discussed below, which can help them in the future:

Cooperation and partnership: Higher emphasis on group projects can assist students in learning how to operate effectually with individuals of varied backgrounds and value their perceptions.

Communication: Project works can assist students in learning how to communicate effectually in different forms (verbal, written, visual) to different kinds of addressees.

Identifying issues and solving: Real-life issues are unscheduled, complicated, and do not necessarily have disciplinary margins. PBL can challenge the learner to learn from a wide spectrum of knowledge and expertise to approach the open-ended issue in innovative manners.

Personal characteristics: Handling authentic issues that are affecting other people has the power to influence and inspire learners to exert their best effort, thereby developing personal characteristics such as empathy, determination, and self-awareness.

All the more so, higher education needs to prepare learners not only to become employable but also for their professions and lives, just like flexible projects. Students who have undergone active learning processes in their higher education structure through PBL are geared up to develop the skills that they have learned through various project works and can implement the same in their professional lives. Thus, the high-impact project-based practices help students not only graduate with self-confidence but also prepare them for all the challenges that they might encounter in their lives.

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