Project Based Learning
Curriculum Design and Project Based Learning
The Curriculum for Excellence has outlined seven Principles of Curriculum Design –
- Challenge and enjoyment,
- Personalisation and Choice,
TAGS will utilise Project Based Learning (PBL) to ensure these principles are adhered to.
PBL is becoming widely used in the U.S. and interest is now gaining interest in the U.K –
“Research from the United States has shown that ‘Learning Through ‘REAL’ Projects’ has significant impact on pupil development and engagement. Over the next three years, we are working with the Educational Endowment Fund to test the effectiveness of this method in up to 12 UK secondary schools. Innovation Unit are looking to replicate the success of the High Tech High school in San Diego CA, and project based learning’s impact on engagement in UK schools. We are conducting a Random Control Trial to test project based learning UK, in which we will be training schools in the UK to deliver High Tech Highs version of learning through real projects.” Innovation Unit – www.innovationunit.org
High Tech High School – San Diego
The Aberdeen Green School will be modeling the extremely successful school based in San Diego – High Tech High (HTH).
Larry Rosenstock, CEO and founding principal of HTH will be an advisor for The Aberdeen Green School.
“At High Tech High, we are not mis-predicting who can and who cannot.
I’ve met with many parents in my career and they say this school is really different from other schools. I ask them about their school experience, and they often say it was fragmented and alienating – do they want the same thing for their kids? No.
When we first opened the school, parents were scared about the way we were doing things and that we were not ability grouping. But they were scared to leave, I asked them why couldn’t they leave if they felt that way and they would say that their kids loved coming too much. We heard that a lot, and then on the back end the colleges really love getting our kids. So the parents finally ended up saying, well the kids love coming the colleges love accepting them – I guess you are doing something that works.” Larry Rosenstock, CEO High Tech High
HTH was launched in 2000 as an independent public charter school with nearly 600 students aged 14-18.
The school’s mission is to prepare a diverse range of students for postsecondary education, citizenship, and leadership in the high technology industry.
Innovative features include performance-based assessment, daily shared planning time for staff, internships for all students, and close links to the high tech workplace. Fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, HTH graduated its first class in June 2003. HTH ranks near the top in raw scores on California standardized tests (94th percentile statewide). Since opening, HTH has been one of the highest scoring schools in San Diego County on the California Academic Performance Index.
At HTH, learning is connected to the world beyond school. To graduate, each student must complete a substantial Academic Internship in a local business or social service agency. There is no test to get into HTH; students are accepted by lottery, resulting in an ethnically and economically diverse student body. There are about five applicants for everyavailable place.
HTH teachers are currently working with Innovation Unit in London on a trial program to introduce Project Based Learning to 12 UK secondary schools. One of those teachers, Patrick Yurik will be visiting TAGS in September in an advisory capacity.
Research from the United States has shown that ‘Learning Through ‘REAL’ Projects’ has significant impact on pupil development and engagement. Over the next three years, we are working with the Educational Endowment Fund to test the effectiveness of this method in up to 12 UK secondary schools.
From High Tech High to project-based learning in the UK
John Bosselman is a humanities teacher at High Tech High, Chula Vista, San Diego, California.For the 2013-14 school year, John is on leave from High Tech High and is working for the Innovation Unit in London as a project-based team coach, working in five schools throughout the UK coaching teachers in their development of project based learning.
“After I completed my teacher training, I worked for a year in a traditional comprehensive school in New Hampshire. Then I found out about a job as a humanities teacher at High Tech High, Chula Vista, California.
I’d read a lot about High Tech High when I was training and was very drawn to it. In a nutshell High Tech High is about personalising learning for students. Teachers have the freedom to design their own curriculum and everyone has a common intellectual mission. Working at High Tech High exceeded all my expectations. It is everything I went into teaching for, with the focus on relationships and the freedom for intellectual exploration.
Project-based learning (PBL) is at the centre of High Tech High’s way of working. I believe in it so deeply because I know that through PBL my students truly are engaged in their learning. They have a thorough understanding of where their work is going. With PBL you get to know your students really well, you get to know them as learners.
The impact of PBL on students is huge. You see the evidence of soft skills straight away, so the communication and teamwork is excellent and you see kids excelling when they go to university because of that. They are the ones who suggest setting up a study group and who can confidently present exhibitions of learning and can develop their skills, because that’s what they’ve been doing for years at school.
This academic year, I’m in the UK working with five schools in the UK on the development of PBL. I’ve found all the teachers I work with incredibly receptive. The schools I’m working with are all very different, so the way PBL materialises is very different. All the teachers I have met here would like to try PBL and are very interested in collaborative models of working. The problem is always time. Obviously all teachers are very busy. At High Tech High we’ve made the time and space to collaborate, it’s all set up that way. I meet with my co-partner for an hour before school and have another hour of common planning built into the timetable.
My aim for the future is to work with my students and my colleagues and hone my craft. When I look back in 30 years time I want to be part of people realising the important role educators have in society. It’s one of my aims to make education and teaching a preference for people who want to make an impact on their community and the world.”
Additional Project Based Learning Information:
From The University of Oregon:
Project-based learning is learner centered. Students have a significant voice in selecting the content areas and nature of the projects that they do. There is considerable focus on students understanding what it is they are doing, why it is important, and how they will be assessed. Indeed, students may help to set some of the goals over which they will be assessed and how they will be assessed over these goals. All of these learner-centered characteristics of PBL contribute to learner motivation and active engagement. A high level of intrinsic motivation and active engagement are essential to the success of a PBL lesson.
From student point of view, Project-Based Learning:
- Is learner centered and intrinsically motivating.
- Encourages collaboration and cooperative learning.
- Requires students to produce a product, presentation, or performance.
- Allows students to make incremental and continual improvement in their product, presentation, or performance.
- Is designed so that students are actively engaged in “doing” things rather then in “learning about” something.
- Is challenging; focusing on higher-order skills.
From teacher point of view, Project-Based Learning:
- Has authentic content and purpose.
- Uses authentic assessment.
- Is teacher facilitated but the teacher is much more a “guide on the side” rather than a “sage on the stage.”
- Has explicit educational goals.
- Is rooted in constructivism (a social learning theory).
- Is designed so that the teacher will be a learner.
- Teacher plays a major role in setting the learning goals of the project.
- Teacher and students provide formative evaluation.
- Teacher, students, and others may help in the summative (final) evaluation.
- Rubrics created by a combination of teacher and students. These facilitate self-evaluation, peer evaluation, evaluation by the teacher, and evaluation by outside experts.
From a research point of view, Project-Based Learning is supported by work in:
- Situated Learning Theory.
- Motivation Theory.
- Inquiry & Discovery-Based Learning.
- Cooperative Learning.
- Individual & Collaborative Problem Solving.
- Peer Instruction.
- Problem-Based Learning.
“Project-based learning is an instructional method centered on the learner. Instead of using a rigid lesson plan that directs a learner down a specific path of learning outcomes or objectives, project-based learning allows in-depth investigation of a topic worth learning more about.”(Harris & Katz, 2001)
“Through the construction of a personally-meaningful artifact, which may be a play, a multimedia presentation or a poem, learners represent what they’ve learned.” (Harel & Papert, 1991; Kafai & Resnick, 1996)
“In addition, learners typically have more autonomy over what they learn, maintaining interest and motivating learners to take more responsibility for their learning.” (Tassinari, 1996; Wolk, 1994; Worthy, 2000)
“With more autonomy, learners shape their projects to fit their own interests and abilities.”(Moursund, 1998, p. 4)
“In project-based science, for example, emphasis is placed on a driving question to guide an investigation.” (Blumenfeld et al., 1991; Marx, Blumenfeld, Krajcik, & Soloway, 1997)