Engaged and Active Learning, Based on Project /Problem
Hadas Huber, with advisors Prof. David Edgar, Dr. Iwona Maciejowska, & Davida Pollak
Engaged and active learning inspired by projects and problems (PBL) is a teaching method based on mutual cooperation and collaboration on a project between teachers, students, and stakeholders in the community.
In order to make it realistic and beneficial, the process takes place within the particular relevant community.
The lecturer’s role is mainly to guide the students and coordinate the studies, while presenting the students with several options for the learning processes.
This way, we encourage the students to take full responsibility for their own learning. While they learn how to learn by themselves, they will also develop other skills like: creative thinking, asking questions, self-regulating, debating, initiating, and so on.
The finished products are shared with the community in exhibitions, articles in local newspapers, lectures, a workshop for the community, or through the launch of an actual project.
This way, the PBL process creates a positive experience, for the students, as well as the faculty. Both faculty and students have to constantly develop their own knowledge, values, and skills.
Experiencing active and engaged learning can help clarify some important questions:
- How do we define active and involved learning?
- Why is it associated with projects and dilemmas?
- What is the potential for students and teacher if we use it properly?
YOU CAN’T JUST TALK ABOUT IT. YOU HAVE TO DO IT!
The main purpose of this faculty training is to increase the use of teaching methods that are fostering active and involved learning specifically by using PBL/PjBL.
Problem-Based Learning (PBL) is an instructional method of hands-on, active learning centered on the investigation and resolution of messy, real-world problems. Project-based learning (PjBL) is a dynamic approach to teaching in which students explore real-world problems and challenges. In both types of active and engaged learning, students are inspired to gain a deeper knowledge of the subjects they're studying. The main difference between the two methods is that in PjBL, in addition to proposing a solution to a defined problem, the students apply a chosen solution in the field, affecting the community.
- Promoting meaningful emotional and cognitive learning;
- Experiencing personal and interpersonal relationships based on three components simultaneously:
- Promoting knowledge, skills, and values required in the 21st century;
- Encouraging dialogue between all partners that cultivates action, transparency, trust, and autonomy.
Teaching via PBL/PjBL relates to all five TeachEX project domains, that were identified as meaningful for teaching excellence as described below:
How It Is Related to PBL/PjBL
Active teaching & learning
PBL is promoting active models of learning. The involvement of students in projects and dilemmas that are relevant to higher education and to the community, while increasing multicultural activities.
Internationalization of education
Training the academic staff at Gordon College, as well as nationwide
Bridging the generation gap
Developing a model of discourse that promotes collaborative teaching and learning
Managing diversity in the classroom
Enabling different participants to work together toward a common goal and expressing their different skills and abilities.
Using digital tools can be beneficial during all stages: brainstorming, planning, executing the learning process, documenting, presenting, and assessing.
At the end of the training, participants will be able to do the following (depending on their skills):
Step 1 - First Exposure to PBL/PjBL
- Explain PBL or PjBL and give examples.
Step 2 - Deepening Knowledge and Practicing Main Principles
- Present authentic and relevant dilemmas/questions/issues in a way that is beneficial to the relevant community and subject matter.
- Create fertile questions.
- Choose a meaningful and relevant dilemma.
Step 3 - Applying PBL/PjBL Principles and Model
- Adapt their courses to the presented method.
- Use PBL/PJBL and address “big questions.”
- Facilitate fine tuning processes that are meaningful for the student.
- Cope with students’ frustration during the process.
Recommended Venues for Training
The training can take place in workshops, online courses, personal tutoring, extended training, or any combination of these, depending on the needs of your particular institution and team. We recommend a three step modular training (depending on participant ability) as detailed below:
Step 1 - Getting to know the method (2 hour session with up to 12 participants).
Step 2 - Deepening knowledge and practicing main principles (2-3 hour session with up to 12 participants).
Step 3 - Adapting relevant courses to be taught as PBL or PjBL (individual coaching).
Training guide for Engaged and active learning in Higher Education
This training guide include 3 steps according to the faculty maturity in this subject.
Step 1: Plenary meeting up to 12 participant (2 hours)
Getting to know the underpinning theories of PBL/PjBL and its benefit for Education.
Duration in minutes
Materials and aids
10 min plannary
self introduction and matching expectation
Each participant will say what he/she expects
5 min plannary
Watching video :Project Based Learning: Explained.
Discussing differences between active learning methods
15 min- task little groups
Building a mind map of the discussed concepts. Each group will organize the learned new knowledge and insights
participant may use paper or digital tools like Coggle
20 min - plennary
Presenting The maps
10 min summing up
Which Principles of PBL/PjBL were present in our session ?
 "Project-Based Learning vs. Problem-Based Learning vs. X-BL - Edutopia." 6 Jan. 2014, https://www.edutopia.org/blog/pbl-vs-pbl-vs-xbl-john-larmer. Accessed 13 Apr. 2017.
 "The Teacher's Guide to Project-based Learning - Innovation Unit." http://www.innovationunit.org/sites/default/files/Teacher's%20Guide%20to%20Project-based%20Learning.pdf. Accessed 13 Apr. 2017.
Step 2: Plenary meeting up to 12 participant (2 hours)
Deepening knowledge - practicing main principles. Basic knowledge of the method is required.
Duration in minutes
Materials and aids
10 min Opening
Presenting main principle of PBL/PjBL
How to formulate a relevant fertile question?
20 min task
Build a fertile question for you audience and add it to a Shared document - Fertile questions
From Theory to Practice
Discussion - what can be taken to your course?
 "Teaching and Learning in a Community of Thinking." http://yoramharpaz.com/pubs/en_learning/teaching-learning.pdf. Accessed 13 Apr. 2017.
Step 3: Individual coaching or little groups
- One long session building the course outline according to PBL/PjBL principles.
- Few short session during the semester.
Duration in minutes
Materials and aids
presenting discussing examples of adapted courses
Defining Learning outcomes
and Design the course.
Adapting Assessment of course and developing alternative assessments that takes into account the learning process and outcomes
Griffin, P. (2014) Collaborative Problem Solving: Empirical Progressions Version 1.1, http://www.atc21s.org/uploads/3/7/0/0/37007163/collaborative_problem_solving_emprical_progressions_v1.1.pdf. Accessed 13 Apr. 2017.
Material and Training evaluation
Evaluation will be done by divers methods: reflection, interviews and questionnaire with a grade scale of 1 to 5, including question like:
- How do faculty rate the training?
- Does the theoretical material supplied covers the need?
- Does the course you developed in the workshop, apply the constructivist approach?
- Is the course adapted to a wide range of populations, assignment levels and subjects?