Project Based Learning (PBL) is a teaching methodology in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to authentic, engaging and complex questions, problems, or challenges. At Redhill School, Grade 7 and 8 students have a substantial part of a day in the cycle dedicated to PBL. They are involved in at least three projects a year.
The elements that are encouraged in PBL incorporate fundamental knowledge and understanding of content and skills (as would be expected in a ‘normal’ classroom) but it encourages so much more as well. Each project is framed by a meaningful problem that challenges students (either individually or in small collaborative groups) to find solutions. They are expected to engage in a rigorous, extended process of asking questions, finding information and applying the information to inform their chosen solution. All projects are developed within a real-world context – i.e. with real consequences and potential, sometimes even creating opportunities for entrepreneurial skills to be developed. Fundamental to PBL is that the students make decisions, both about solutions to the problem and how they work, and what they create. Reflection on learning and revision of process/product/methodology is essential. Students are expected to interrogate their own and others’ effectiveness, quality of work, and how obstacles were overcome, as well as what could be improved ‘next time’. All projects are made public, where students will present their work to teachers, peers, parents and even business.
PBL together with P4C is focussed on developing critical and creative students, who are able to independently engage in their learning. The two processes, both of which develop metacognitive reasoning (being able to think about our thinking), and sophisticated, multidimensional solution-finding are aimed at developing young citizens who are responsible, aware and engaged in their world.