It’s not about the technology redux (but it sure helps!)
The justification for using project-based learning is simply this- that the learning is applied to authentic situations and can then be transferred to others situations, because it is now embedded in the learner. This then, is real learning and is supported by various research studies. Mathematics was better understood especially in analytical applications in a British study. An SRI study showed project-based students using technology significantly out-performed non-technology students in the areas of “communication skills, teamwork, and problem solving” (PBL Research Summary, 2009). The Vanderbilt study in 1992 showed improved academic skills in a variety areas. Other studies support these ones. Studies suggest that project-based learners, in the case of school laptop based programs, achieved higher state test scores, became better self-directed learners, demonstrated greater engagement, higher-order thinking skills and analytical thinking.
What is also clear (and this may seem to oppose my previous post comment about technology) is that technology played an important role in these studies and that although PBL can be successful with minimal technology to support it, PBL is significantly more successful when there is a variety of technologies in place. What I meant in my previous posting is that PBL is not “about” the technology. We don’t choose the technology first and then decide what focus our PBL will take. Rather, the technology is just a tool to achieve the goals of the PBL.
PBL Research Summary: Studies Validate Project-Based Learning | Edutopia. (n.d.). Retrieved September 10, 2009, from http://www.edutopia.org/project-based-learning-research
Wiggins, G., & McTighe, J. (n.d.). Educational Leadership:Reshaping High Schools:Put Understanding First. Retrieved September 10, 2009, from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational_leadership/may08/vol65/num08/Put_Understanding_First.aspx