Are you looking to energize your teaching and enhance student learning? Project-based learning (PBL) is a fun and meaningful way to integrate the use of language skills while promoting students’ critical thinking skills. As indicated by the name, project-based learning involves students refining and honing their language skills through the completion of projects.
PBL requires teachers to create a classroom culture of creativity and engagement in which students share their work and reflect on the processes they use to create and complete their projects (Cooper & Murphy, 2016). Hedge (1993) noted additional specifications for PBL use in an English language classroom, including using authentic materials, creating a student-centered classroom, sequencing tasks to scaffold the final project, and students accepting responsibility in completing the project both in and outside of the classroom.
Projects can include multimedia projects, posters, dioramas, spoken presentations, and traditional papers.
A Sample Project
Following is a sample 3-week project used in an undergraduate first-year experience course for English language learners. The assignment instructions outline the instructor’s expectations for the assignment. In addition, the pacing for the activities and workshop times are clarified for students, demonstrating how the tasks scaffold to the final project.
Provide the following information to your students:
Take some time to reflect on the semester. What did you learn? What did enjoy? What did you dislike? Was there a person or a group of people who helped you or who you enjoyed spending time with?
Create a multimodal composition in which you reflect on the semester. Your multimodal composition can be a poster, a PowerPoint, a Prezi, a video, or a podcast.
This project is considered your final exam. Therefore, you will present your work to the class during the scheduled exam time. Presentations/multimodal compositions should be no more than 5 minutes long.
Following is the schedule for completion of the project:
Provide the following rubric to your students. It shows them how their work will be assessed.
For more information about PBL, see the ELT Development Series book, Project-Based Learning.
Cooper, R., & Murphy, E. (2016). Hacking project based learning. Cleveland, OH: Times 10.
Hedge, T. (1993). Key concepts in ELT. ELT Journal, 47, 275–277.