The Value of Project-Based Learning in STEM Education

How Project-Based Learning in STEM Programs Helps Children Build Key Skills

As the world’s economy continues to transition from an informational economy to a conceptual one, educators are quickly realizing that their students need more than passive forms of education that rely on memorization and frequent testing. In response, project-based learning (PBL), a learning technique focused on assigning and guiding students through self-directed projects toward clear learning outcomes, has become an essential approach to building students’ confidence to confront the unknown. Grounded in over 100 years of educational philosophy, PBL’s effectiveness stems from its hands-on approach to learning, and its ability to develop a student’s confidence in solving problems that have no clear solution.

This paper traces the origins of PBL and explores why applying its principles to STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education is so effective.

Highlights include:

  • A brief history of PBL and how it evolved from the teachings and research of psychologists John Dewey and Jean Piaget.
  • A helpful chart describing the differences between a traditional classroom environment, and one that uses PBL techniques.
  • An explanation of what makes a project “authentic” and therefore most beneficial for students to undertake.

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