Applied Linguistics

Project based learning definition/characteristic/difference/role

Learning by projects

Project-based learning is a methodology that enables students to acquire key knowledge and skills in the 21st century by developing projects that respond to real-life problems. Project-based learning and teaching are part of the ‘ active learning ‘ domain . Within this field we find, along with project-based learning, other methodologies such as task-based learning, problem-based learning, discovery learning or challenge-based learning. Project based learning definition

All of these teaching and learning strategies differ from “direct teaching” because, among other things,

  • the knowledge is not a possession of the teacher that must be transmitted to the students but the result of a working process between students and teachers which are made by questions, seeks information and this information is made to draw conclusions.
  • The role of the student is not limited to active listening but is expected to participate actively in higher-level cognitive processes: problem recognition, prioritization, information gathering, data understanding and interpretation, establishment of logical relationships, drawing of conclusions or critical review of preconceptions and beliefs.
  • the role of the teacher expands beyond the presentation of content. The main function of the teacher is to create the learning situation that allows students to develop the project, which implies looking for materials, locating sources of information, managing group work, assessing the development of the project, solving difficulties, controlling the pace work, facilitate the success of the project and evaluate the result.

How to start a project Project-based learning definition

The first step in carrying out the PBL methodology is to select the project itself. We must ask ourselves what we want to find out. A question from the teacher can bring up multiple ideas.

For example, why can some animals fly? Based on this question, students will be able to start planning their projects: bird anatomy, aspects related to human biology, why it is useful for birds to fly. Project based learning definition

Many themes will emerge from a single question. Then, the teacher must direct to specify and guide in teaching. This must be linked to a real aspect, something that we can find in our daily lives.

Another option is to link the projects with the educational center or with an idea that can generate a social benefit . In this way, the student will feel that he is doing something useful and will increase his involvement. Likewise, the final presentation of the project can increase motivation.

To carry out an ABP teaching it is necessary to take into account the following questions:

Characteristics Project-based learning definition

The project as the main course of learning is characterized by:

  1. It aims to teach meaningful content. The learning objectives set out in a project are derived from the learning standards and key competencies of the subject. Project-based learning definition
  2. It requires critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, and various forms of communication. To answer the guiding question the project launches and create quality work, students need to do much more than memorize information. They need to use higher-order intellectual abilities and also learn to work in a team. They must listen to others and also be able to express their ideas clearly. Being able to read different types of materials and also to express oneself in different formats. These are the so-called key capabilities for the 21st century.
  3. Research is an essential part of the learning process, as well as the need to create something new. Students must ask (themselves) questions, seek answers and reach conclusions that lead them to build something new: an idea, an interpretation or a product.
  4. It is organized around an open driving question . The guiding question focuses students’ work, focusing on important issues, debates, challenges, or problems.
  5. Creates the need to learn essential content and to achieve key competencies. The project work turns around the way in which information and basic concepts are traditionally presented: The project as a dessert begins with the presentation to the students of the subject and the concepts that, once acquired, the students apply in the project. In contrast, true project work begins with a vision of the final product that is expected to be built. This creates a context and a reason to learn and understand the key concepts while working on the project.
  6. It allows some degree of decision to the students. They learn to work independently and accept responsibility when asked to make decisions about their work and what they create. The opportunity to choose and express what they have learned in their own way also contributes to increasing the student’s involvement with their learning process.
  7. It includes a process of evaluation and reflection. Students learn to evaluate and be evaluated to improve the quality of the products they work on; they are asked to reflect on what they learn and how they learn it. Project-based learning definition
  8. It involves an audience. Students present their project to other people outside the classroom (in person or virtually). This increases the motivation of the student by being aware that they have an audience and also gives the project authenticity.

Student role

Students are the protagonists of their own learning. They engage in interdisciplinary, long-term activities and processes focused on their own interests, objectives, and characteristics. These include:
Project design. It corresponds to the analysis and planning stage of the project, they must formulate objectives, delimit the problem, identify the profiles of the actors involved, etc.
Collaborative work. It is an intentional group process to achieve the specific objectives proposed. Students make up an organization. Group work with technological support is presented as a set of strategies aimed at maximizing results and minimizing loss of time.
Collaborative work based on ICTs. ICTs are incorporated to support and facilitate work ( Computer Supported Cooperative Work ).
Cooperative work. The learning activities are carried out in small groups that are formed after the instructions explained by the teacher. Members exchange information, activate prior knowledge, promote research, and provide mutual feedback. Project based learning definition
Learning based on real problems. It occurs around a previously designed problematic situation and the elaboration of constructs (theoretical constructions to understand the problem)

Teacher role Project-based learning definition

The teacher using this method requires a well-defined instructional design. You must previously analyze the projects that will be the focus of the course to ensure that students have everything they need to solve it. In addition, the approach you make should ensure that the student develops all the skills that have been established for the course. You have the ultimate responsibility for curriculum, instruction, and assessment. Project-based learning definition
In addition, they must be an expert in content, master information, and communication technologies, and awaken motivation and interest.
The teacher acts as a creator, guide, and facilitator. Offers students resources and advice during the development of their projects. The teacher is not the main source of access to information, and students are in charge of collecting and analyzing it. In this process, they make discoveries and report on their results. Learning by Projects with activities
The teacher can often bring the whole class together to learn and discuss a specific (even unexpected) situation that a student or team has encountered. The teacher uses the tools and methodology of real assessment and must face and overcome the challenge imposed by each student building their new knowledge instead of studying the same content as other students. This involves guiding efforts to enhance the individual learning strengths of your students and their different approaches and styles towards it.

Presence of grammar

It must be borne in mind that in the second language learning the end product is both the objective and the medium. On the one hand, the final product is the objective to which a series of activities and tasks aim, and on the other, it is the means for learning a language, since to carry out the activities it is necessary to make use of the language that you learn. During the learning process, all language skills are activated and the grammar and vocabulary that are needed at all times are learned. Therefore, the learning of grammar is mostly implicit and inductive, but the teacher‘s interventions can be explicit in terms of grammar and deductive.

Conventional learning vs project-based learning( difference)




The learning environment and teaching materials It is prepared and presented by the teacher The learning situation is presented by the teacher. The learning material is selected and generated by the students
Sequence in the order of actions to learn Determined by the teacher Students actively participate in the generation of this sequence
Time when problems are being worked on After presenting the learning material Before having the material to be worked
Learning responsibility Taken by the teacher Active role of students in responsibility for their learning
Expert presence The teacher represents the image of the expert The teacher is a tutor and the role of expert can be performed by other people related to or outside the subject
Evaluation Determined and executed by the teacher The student has an active role and in his evaluation and in that of his work group

Activity example Project-based learning definition

Proficiency level: C1
Groups are formed. As a project for the course, the creation of a magazine, newspaper or website is proposed. The subject is selected by students according to their interests: science and technology, health and beauty, entertainment, art and culture, gastronomy, etc. Project-based learning definition
Students model their favorite newspaper or magazine and create a copy of that publication.

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