Project-based learning (PBL) is a style of teaching that focuses on the process and results of a student-led inquiry. It encourages students to learn through hands-on, real-world tasks—a significantly more motivating and engaging technique than traditional, lecture-based learning.
PBL engages learners by allowing them to explore their interests while developing key life and employability skills. This educational approach is especially beneficial for students who are struggling or disengaged with traditional schooling methods.
Below, we’ll discuss some decisive reasons why project-based learning is so motivating for students, regardless of their skills, interests, or learning background.
Students take control of their learning
Project-based learning is a student-centred, self-guided process where students take responsibility for their learning. Students can independently explore and investigate a topic in-depth, developing critical thinking skills, creativity, confidence, and problem-solving abilities along the way.
When students control their learning, they’re more likely to engage deeply with the content. Educators can help by identifying each students’ unique interests and skills, building projects around these capabilities.
For example, a student with a keen interest in cars might enjoy designing, planning, and creating a futuristic, environmentally friendly vehicle model. The student will have control over each stage of the project, undertaking their research under the guidance of educators and peers.
Students see their visions come to life
Project-based learning typically starts with a plan and ends with a real-world result students can interact with and enjoy. As students gradually see their vision come to life, they’ll feel more motivated to continue with and complete the project—or even set new and broader goals.
This real-world result is one of PBL’s key benefits. As the project progresses, students have opportunities to make mistakes, learn from them, and make changes in real-time, instantly seeing the results of their changes and improvements. In this way, learners understand their actions have an authentic impact, boosting their confidence and feelings of agency.
Some examples of project-based learning tasks that have a real-world impact include:
- Designing and planting a community garden,
- Building an app,
- Writing and publishing a short story,
- Planning and launching a small business,
- Shooting a documentary,
- Creating a website.
Students make a real community impact
Along with seeing real-world results, students can also enjoy the impact of their work upon the local community. In this way, learners will see themselves as impactful members of society with real power and influence, boosting their motivation and drive to succeed.
Some examples of community projects include:
- Raising money for a local charity,
- Starting a school recycling program,
- Starting up a neighbourhood watch group,
- Writing and sending out a community newsletter,
- Collecting donations for a local shelter,
- Running a community clean-up day.
Deliver PBL opportunities to help your students succeed
When students are deeply involved in their work and can see real outcomes, their motivation and interest soar—and as many educators know, motivation is the key to success.
By delivering project-based learning opportunities to your students, you can help them develop critical skills and build the confidence necessary to excel in their careers and daily lives.