Blended Learning Blog n°8 : Project vs. Problem-Based Learning

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Blended learning models are a great way to rethink the way classes are given. It’s a great way to develop a robust learning method as well as robust exercises to encourage students in becoming more active learners.

There are different types of in-class exercises, but in this article we will focus only on a couple of them. Keep in mind that there are many other types that exist and more on the way to be designed.

First, let’s explore the group work. With blended learning, students have more time to interacts with each other in class. Therefore, you should give more chance to students to participate in group discussions, collaborative problem-solving activities or group projects. In this way they collaborate and can give each other constructive feedback.

Keep in mind that in order for this to work effectively, students need clear guidelines and sets of norms to scaffold students’ interactions. Collaborative projects are one type of group activity you can definitely implement in blended classrooms. These types of projects can either be problem or project-based.

  1. Problem-based learning tasks are there to challenge groups of students so that they can explore the problematics together as well as work hand in hand to find a solution. These types of activities are convergent in nature in which students explore a variety of different solutions to problems but end up choosing one.
  2. Project-based learning activities, on the other hand,have more to do with students applying specific sets of skills in order to complete a project. These activities tend to be more divergent and open-ended.

What are the similarities and differences between both learning activities?

While completing both problem and project-based learning activities, students may find themselves facing similar tasks, employ similar skills and reach similar results. Indeed, activities can be both project and problem-based. For instance, in a computer programming class, the instructor can imagine and design activities that require from students to produce a computer program that completes a specific task. And in a physics course, students could be asked to solve a specific problem and then afterwards, build a model based on the results.

There also exist differences between both learning activities. For instance, problem-based learning usually focuses on one subject while project-based learning is often interdisciplinary. Furthermore, project based learning expect from students to get immediate real world experiences while doing their projects. This is not a key element of problem based activities. Also, project-based activities do take a longer time to complete.

Finally, the outputs for project based and problem-based learning activities can take many forms. Students may be able to conduct case study analyses, prepare for in-class debates, make presentations, engage in hands-on labs, create documentary films, design future project proposals, and so on.

When deciding on which activity you’re going to be using for your course, keep in mind to ask yourself how that activity will help students achieve the learning objectives of the course more effectively. Remember that activities must be designed and picked with purpose.

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Justine Gerard

Justine Gerard

Justine est inound marketing & customer success manager chez Wooclap. Une solution tech collaborative qui dynamise les cours et formations grâce aux smartphones. Vous pouvez suivre.