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A Beginner’s Guide to Machine Learning Projects: Where to Start?
Machine learning projects have become increasingly popular in recent years, as businesses and individuals alike recognize the potential of this powerful technology. However, getting started with machine learning can be overwhelming for beginners. With a wide range of algorithms, tools, and techniques available, it’s important to have a clear roadmap to guide your journey. In this article, we will explore the essential steps you need to take when embarking on a machine learning project.
Understanding the Basics of Machine Learning
Before diving into machine learning projects, it is crucial to have a solid understanding of the basics. Machine learning is a branch of artificial intelligence that enables computers to learn from data without being explicitly programmed. It involves developing algorithms that can analyze and interpret large datasets, identify patterns, and make predictions or decisions based on the patterns discovered.
To begin your machine learning journey, familiarize yourself with key concepts such as supervised learning (where models are trained using labeled data), unsupervised learning (where models discover patterns in unlabeled data), and reinforcement learning (where models learn through trial and error). Additionally, grasp the difference between regression (predicting continuous values) and classification (predicting categorical values) tasks.
Choosing the Right Machine Learning Algorithm
Once you have grasped the basics of machine learning, it’s time to choose an algorithm that suits your project goals. There are various types of algorithms available for different types of problems. For example, if you aim to predict housing prices based on historical data, regression algorithms like linear regression or decision trees may be suitable. On the other hand, if you want to classify emails as spam or non-spam based on their content, classification algorithms such as logistic regression or support vector machines might be more appropriate.
Consider factors like dataset size, complexity of features, interpretability requirements, and computational resources when selecting an algorithm. It is also beneficial to experiment with multiple algorithms to find the one that yields the best results for your specific project.
Preparing and Exploring Data
Data preparation and exploration are crucial steps in any machine learning project. Before feeding data into a machine learning algorithm, you need to ensure it is clean, relevant, and properly formatted. Start by examining the dataset for missing values, outliers, or inconsistencies. Depending on the nature of the problem, you may need to handle missing data by imputing or removing them.
Next, explore the dataset to gain insights into its characteristics. Visualize the data using plots and graphs to identify patterns or correlations between variables. This process can help you make informed decisions about feature selection or engineering techniques that may improve model performance.
Building and Evaluating Models
With a well-prepared dataset at hand, it’s time to build and train your machine learning models. This involves splitting your data into training and testing sets to assess how well your model generalizes to unseen data. The training set is used to teach the model by adjusting its internal parameters based on known outputs (labels). The testing set is then used to evaluate how well the trained model performs on new data.
During model training, tune hyperparameters (settings that influence model behavior) using techniques like grid search or random search. This process helps optimize model performance without overfitting (when a model memorizes training examples instead of generalizing).
Once you have trained your models, evaluate their performance using appropriate metrics such as accuracy, precision, recall, or mean squared error depending on the type of problem you are solving. Compare different models and fine-tune them if necessary until you achieve satisfactory results.
Embarking on a machine learning project can be an exciting but challenging endeavor for beginners. By understanding the basics of machine learning concepts, choosing suitable algorithms for your project goals, preparing and exploring data meticulously, and building and evaluating models effectively; you can lay a strong foundation for successful machine learning projects. Remember that machine learning is an iterative process, and continuous learning and experimentation are key to improving your skills and achieving better results in the field.
This text was generated using a large language model, and select text has been reviewed and moderated for purposes such as readability.
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Task-Based Learning (TBL) and Project-Based Learning (PBL) Differences
Task-Based Learning (TBL) or Project-Based Learning (PBL)?
These two methods focus on letting students take charge of their own learning, but they have some important differences in how they work .
In this blog article, we’ll explore the details of TBL and PBL , including how they’re done, what students are expected to learn, how long they usually take, how they’re structured, and the roles of teachers and students.
Written by Roberta Begliomini
Teacher Trainer in Florence
Task-Based Learning (TBL) and Project-Based Learning (PBL) are two learning strategies that focus on the development, execution, and delivery of tasks and projects respectively.
Although both strategies have the students at the center of their learning, some differences must be highlighted as well as the use of each approach according to the lesson target.
Task-Based Learning (TBL) and Project-Based Learning (PBL) are two distinct approaches that offer valuable learning experiences to students. While TBL focuses on language acquisition through the completion of specific tasks, PBL emphasizes interdisciplinary project work that fosters critical thinking, problem-solving, and collaboration skills. Each approach has its own unique characteristics, benefits, and considerations for implementation.
Task-Based Learning (TBL)
Task-Based Learning focuses on the completion of specific tasks as a means to achieve language learning goals . Students are presented with authentic and meaningful tasks that mirror real-world contexts , enabling them to develop their language skills through practical application. TBL places a strong emphasis on communicative competence, encouraging learners to actively engage in language production and interaction. By immersing students in relevant tasks, TBL promotes linguistic fluency, accuracy, and pragmatic competence.
Project-Based Learning (PBL)
Project-Based Learning, on the other hand, revolves around the implementation of extended, multifaceted projects that integrate various subject areas and skills. Students are presented with complex, real-world problems or challenges, and they work collaboratively to design and execute projects that address these issues. PBL nurtures inquiry, research, critical thinking, problem-solving, and creativity. It fosters the development of essential 21st-century skills such as collaboration, communication, and self-directed learning.
In the following sections, we will delve deeper into the distinct characteristics of Task-Based Learning and Project-Based Learning, examining their approach, learning objectives, timeframe, structure, and roles of teachers and students. By analyzing these aspects, we can gain a comprehensive understanding of how these two approaches differ and the unique benefits they offer to learners. So, let’s explore the fascinating world of Task-Based Learning and Project-Based Learning and unravel the nuances that set them apart.
TBL and PBL: Characteristics and Approaches
TBL is an approach that centers around the completion of specific tasks . The tasks are designed to reflect real-world situations and provide learners with opportunities to use the target language in authentic contexts. The focus is on language skills development through task completion. TBL encourages learners to actively engage in language production, interaction, and negotiation of meaning. It promotes the development of linguistic fluency, accuracy, and pragmatic competence.
In Task-Based Learning, students are presented with tasks that require them to use the target language to achieve a specific goal. These tasks can be simulations of real-life situations or authentic activities that learners may encounter outside the classroom. For example, a task could involve planning a trip, conducting an interview, or solving a problem collaboratively. TBL emphasizes the use of the target language for meaningful communication rather than focusing solely on grammatical structures or vocabulary.
PBL involves the implementation of extended projects that address real-world problems or challenges. The projects are typically interdisciplinary in nature, integrating various subject areas and skills. The focus is on inquiry, research, critical thinking, problem-solving, and creativity . PBL encourages students to work collaboratively, analyze complex issues, and develop innovative solutions. It nurtures the development of 21st-century skills such as collaboration, communication, and self-directed learning.
In Project-Based Learning, students engage in an in-depth investigation of a complex topic or problem . They work together to identify a question or issue to explore, conduct research, and design a project that addresses the challenge. The project may involve creating a prototype, conducting experiments, presenting findings, or developing a solution. PBL encourages students to take ownership of their learning, make connections across disciplines, and apply knowledge in authentic contexts.
Both TBL and PBL promote active student engagement . In TBL, learners actively engage in language production, interaction, and negotiation of meaning while completing tasks. Similarly, PBL encourages students to work collaboratively, analyze complex issues, and develop innovative solutions. Both approaches value the active participation of students in their learning process.
Learning Objectives Comparison
The primary learning objective of TBL is to develop communicative competence and language proficiency. By engaging in meaningful tasks, learners practice using the target language in authentic contexts. They develop their ability to express themselves fluently, accurately, and appropriately . TBL promotes the acquisition of vocabulary, grammar structures, and language functions needed for effective communication. Additionally, TBL helps learners develop pragmatic competence by understanding and using language in social and cultural contexts.
Through Task-Based Learning, students not only improve their language skills but also develop important strategies for communication . They learn to negotiate meaning, clarify information, and express their opinions. TBL encourages learners to become active participants in conversations and interactions, building their confidence and ability to use the language fluently.
The learning objectives of PBL go beyond language acquisition. PBL aims to foster critical thinking, problem-solving, and 21st-century skills . Through project work, students learn to analyze complex problems, conduct research, and apply knowledge from various disciplines. PBL encourages creativity, innovation, and the development of effective communication and collaboration skills.
In Project-Based Learning, students engage in authentic, real-world scenarios where they need to think critically and find solutions. They learn to ask probing questions, gather information, evaluate sources, and make informed decisions. PBL promotes the development of problem-solving skills and the ability to work collaboratively as students tackle complex issues. It also encourages students to reflect on their learning processes, assess their progress, and present their findings effectively.
Both TBL and PBL prioritize the development of communication skills . TBL focuses on developing communicative competence and language proficiency by engaging learners in meaningful tasks that reflect authentic language use. Similarly, PBL goes beyond language acquisition to foster effective communication and collaboration skills necessary for real-world problem-solving. Both approaches emphasize the practical application of language skills in authentic contexts.
Timeframe and Scope Differences
Task-Based Learning typically involves shorter, focused tasks with specific language learning goals. These tasks are designed to be completed within a relatively short timeframe , such as a single class session or a few sessions. TBL allows for targeted language practice and skill development in specific areas, providing students with immediate feedback and opportunities for improvement.
Project-Based Learning involves longer-term projects with broader learning objectives. These projects require more time to plan, execute, and complete. Depending on the complexity and scope of the project, PBL can span several weeks or even months . PBL provides students with the opportunity to engage in a more in-depth exploration of a topic or problem, allowing for a deeper understanding of the subject matter and the development of a comprehensive solution.
Both TBL and PBL provide opportunities for meaningful and authentic learning experiences . TBL focuses on shorter, focused tasks that allow students to practice specific language skills and receive immediate feedback. Similarly, PBL involves longer-term projects that enable students to engage in a more in-depth exploration of a topic, fostering a deeper understanding and application of knowledge and skills.
Structure and Organization Contrasts
TBL typically follows a clear task sequence to facilitate language acquisition and progression. Tasks are scaffolded in a way that allows learners to build upon their existing knowledge and skills. TBL often includes pre-task activities to activate prior knowledge, task performance activities where students complete the main task, and post-task activities for reflection and feedback. This structured approach helps learners develop language proficiency gradually and ensures a systematic progression in their language learning journey.
PBL is characterized by its open-ended and flexible structure . Students are given the freedom to explore and make decisions about how to approach the project, allowing for creativity and student autonomy. PBL often involves multiple phases , including project planning, research, design, implementation, and presentation. Students collaborate, take on specific roles, and engage in regular reflection and evaluation of their progress. The flexible nature of PBL allows for adaptation and adjustment as students encounter challenges or new information during the project.
Both TBL and PBL prioritize active student engagement. In TBL, students actively participate in the task sequence, which includes pre-task activities, task performance, and post-task reflection. Similarly, in PBL, students are actively involved in project planning, research, implementation, and evaluation. The active involvement of students in both approaches fosters a sense of ownership, motivation, and responsibility for their learning.
Teacher and Student Roles in TBL vs. PBL
In TBL, the teacher acts as a facilitator , providing guidance and support to students as they engage in tasks. The teacher’s role is to create an engaging and stimulating learning environment , select appropriate tasks, and provide clear instructions. They also monitor students’ progress, offer feedback on language use, and encourage reflection on the learning process.
During TBL, students take on an active role in their own learning. They work collaboratively with their peers, engaging in discussions, negotiations, and problem-solving activities. Students are responsible for managing their tasks, making decisions, and applying language skills in authentic contexts. TBL encourages learner autonomy, as students take ownership of their learning by setting goals, monitoring their progress, and reflecting on their language development.
In PBL, the teacher assumes the role of a facilitator and a guide . They provide initial guidance by introducing the project’s theme, establishing learning objectives, and setting clear expectations. The teacher supports students in defining the project scope, identifying resources, and developing a plan. They offer feedback and guidance throughout the project, ensuring students stay on track and meet the desired learning outcomes.
Students play a central and active role in Project-Based Learning. They collaborate with their peers, sharing responsibilities, and leveraging each other’s strengths. Students engage in research, data collection, analysis, and problem-solving activities, applying their knowledge and skills to develop innovative solutions. PBL encourages students to think critically, make informed decisions, and communicate their ideas effectively.
In both TBL and PBL, the role of the teacher shifts from being the sole provider of knowledge to a facilitator of learning. The teacher creates a supportive and inclusive learning environment, fosters student engagement, and promotes the development of essential skills. They encourage inquiry, critical thinking, and effective communication among students.
Conclusion and Key Takeaways: When to use TBL or PBL
Which approach is more applicable to your class depends on the main goal of your lesson plan.
TBL is shorter in duration so it is useful to refresh topics or to introduce new ones.
PBL takes more time and demands much more planning . So it is important to be assertive in the choice of the subject and topic for your project. A brainstorming session with your students might be helpful before developing a lesson plan. Students may choose a topic in which they understand the need to intervene to solve a real problem.
Time is your ally and not your enemy. If you lack time , use TBL rather than PBL. The most important thing is to provide the environment for your students to learn and develop the activities and tasks in a good and pleasant manner.
In TBL, students engage in meaningful tasks that mirror real-life situations, promoting communicative competence and language fluency. On the other hand, PBL provides students with opportunities to tackle complex problems, engage in inquiry, and develop 21st-century skills necessary for success in the modern world.
By understanding the differences between TBL and PBL, educators can make informed decisions about which approach best aligns with their learning objectives and the needs of their students. Both approaches offer valuable opportunities for active learning, student engagement, and the development of essential skills. Whether it’s through task completion or project implementation , educators can create dynamic and enriching learning experiences that empower students to become lifelong learners and problem solvers.
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in meaningful tasks that mirror real-life situations, promoting communicative competence and language fluency. On the other hand, PBL provides students with opportunities to tackle complex problems, engage in inquiry, and develop 21st-century skills necessary for success in the modern world.
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TBL and PBL: Two learner-centred approaches
Many newly qualified or inexperienced teachers tend to base their lesson planning on the traditional PPP approach (Presentation, Practice, Production) because it is reliable and it is a valid framework around which to base a series of classroom activities.
It is also usually the best way of covering all the lexical areas and grammar points in the course book or syllabus. All good and well. The problem is that PPP serves the teacher’s needs but it is debatable whether or not it fulfils the needs of the learner.
The language presented and practiced does not take into account the particular needs of each learner; the language content is almost always dictated by the coursebook and/or syllabus. For this reason, many teachers, having experimented with the PPP approach turn to more learner-centred approaches where the needs of the learner are central to the lesson content. Two such approaches are TBL (Task-Based Learning) and PBL (Project-Based Learning). What is TBL? In task-based learning, the central focus of the lesson is the task itself, not a grammar point or a lexical area, and the objective is not to ‘learn the structure’ but to ‘complete the task’. Of course, to complete the task successfully students have to use the right language and communicate their ideas. The language, therefore becomes an instrument of communication, whose purpose is to help complete the task successfully. The students can use any language they need to reach their objective. Usually there is no ‘correct answer’ for a task outcome. Students decide on their own way of completing it, using the language they see fit. Different teachers use TBL in different ways. Some integrate it into the existing syllabus, some use it to replace the syllabus altogether, some use it as an ‘extra’ to their traditional classroom activities. But generally, teachers using a TBL approach divide their task-based classes into three stages: Stage 1: The pre-task. The teacher introduces the topic and familiarizes students with situations/lexical areas/texts (reading and listening)). This draws the students into the topic and brings up language that may be useful. The teacher then explains what the task is and sets up the activity. Stage 2: Students perform the task in pairs or groups. They may then present their findings/conclusions to the rest of the class. In this stage, mistakes are not important; the teacher provides support and monitors. The learners focus on communication, perhaps at the expense of accuracy, but this will be dealt with in the next stage. Stage 3: The teacher works on specific language points which come up in stage 2. (During the monitoring stage, most teachers make notes of common errors and students’ particular learning needs). Students reflect on the language needed to complete the task and how well they did. This is their opportunity to concentrate on accuracy and make sure they resolve any doubts or problems they had. Tasks can be as simple as putting a list of animals in order from fastest to slowest and then trying to agree with a partner on the correct order. Or it could be something more complicated like a survey to find out which parts of town your classmates live in and how they get to school, ending in visual information presented in the form of pie charts and maps. Or it could be something really complicated like a role-play involving a meeting in the Town Hall of the different people affected by a new shopping centre development and the consequent demolition of a youth centre and old people’s home. Whatever the task, it should always have some kind of completion; and this completion should be central to the class - the language resulting naturally from the task and not the other way round. The advantage of TBL over more traditional methods is that it allows students to focus on real communication before doing any serious language analysis. It focuses on students’ needs by putting them into authentic communicative situations and allowing them to use all their language resources to deal with them. This draws the learners’ attention to what they know how to do, what they don’t know how to do, and what they only half know. It makes learners aware of their needs and encourages them to take (some of the) responsibility for their own learning. TBL is good for mixed ability classes; a task can be completed successfully by a weaker or stronger student with more or less accuracy in language production. The important thing is that both learners have had the same communicative experience and are now aware of their own individual learning needs. Another advantage of this approach is that learners are exposed to a wide variety of language and not just grammar. Collocations, lexical phrases and expressions, chunks of language, things that often escape the constraints of the traditional syllabus come up naturally in task-based lessons. But this can also be a disadvantage. One of the criticisms of TBL is this randomness. It doesn’t often fit in with the course book/syllabus, which tends to present language in neat packages. Some teachers (and learners) also find the move away from an explicit language focus difficult and anarchistic. Many teachers also agree that it is not the best method to use with beginners, since they have very few language resources to draw on to be able to complete meaningful tasks successfully. What is Project-Based Learning (PBL) The PBL approach takes learner-centredness to a higher level. It shares many aspects with TBL, but if anything, it is even more ambitious. Whereas TBL makes a task the central focus of a lesson, PBL often makes a task the focus of a whole term or academic year. Again, as with TBL, different teachers approach project work in different ways. Some use it as the basis for a whole year’s work; others dedicate a certain amount of time alongside the syllabus. Some use projects only on short courses or ‘intensives’. Others try to get their schools to base their whole curriculums on it. But there are generally considered to be four elements which are common to all project-based activities/classes/courses: 1. A central topic from which all the activities derive and which drives the project towards a final objective. 2. Access to means of investigation (the Internet has made this part of project work much easier) to collect, analyse and use information. 3. Plenty of opportunities for sharing ideas, collaborating and communicating. Interaction with other learners is fundamental to PBL. 4. A final product (often produced using new technologies available to us) in the form of posters, presentations, reports, videos, webpages, blogs and so on. The role of the teacher and the learner in the PBL approach is very similar to the TBL approach. Learners are given freedom to go about solving problems or sharing information in the way they see fit. The teacher’s role is monitor and facilitator, setting up frameworks for communication, providing access to information and helping with language where necessary, and giving students opportunities to produce a final product or presentation. As with TBL, the teacher monitors interaction but doesn’t interrupt, dealing with language problems at another moment. The advantages and disadvantages of PBL are similar to those of TBL, but the obvious attraction of project-based learning is the motivating element, especially for younger learners. Projects bring real life into the classroom; instead of learning about how plants grow (and all the language that goes with it), you actually grow the plant and see for yourself. It brings facts to life. The American educational theorist John Dewey wrote “education is not a preparation for life; education is life itself”. Project work allows ‘life itself’ to form part of the classroom and provides hundreds of opportunities for learning. Apart from the fun element, project work involves real life communicative situations, (analyzing, deciding, editing, rejecting, organizing, delegating …) and often involves multi- disciplinary skills which can be brought from other subjects. All in all, it promotes a higher level of thinking than just learning vocabulary and structures. Conclusion Both TBL and PBL focus primarily on the achievement of realistic objectives, and then on the language that is needed to achieve those objectives. They both treat language as an instrument to complete a given objective rather than an isolated grammar point or lexical set to learn and practise. They give plenty of opportunity for communication in authentic contexts and give the learner freedom to use the linguistic resources he/she has, and then reflect on what they learned or need to learn. Finally, as EFL teachers are eclectic by nature, teachers often use a combination of TBL, PBL and traditional techniques such as PPP. Some teachers use TBL and PBL as a small part of a more conventional approach and many teachers on 100% TBL/PBL courses resort to PP type activities when dealing with grammar or vocabulary problems. As always, the important thing is to use what works best for you and your learners. Katherine Bilsborough
I like both approaches, but my main concern is for students whose language proficiency and knowledge are basic. They often become frustrated and give up within the first 10 minutes.
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TBL and PBL
This article has answered me questions I´ve been asking myself for years. Thank you.
Great ideas. Thank you
My ideas on TBL and PBL
It was wonderful honey., this reason, many teachers,, ppp by other names, task based teaching, pbl don't you mean pbl, tbl (task-based learning) and pbl (project-based learning), ppp tbl pbl pwp esa, like the others it's an, defining of task and project, both approaches are great..., for what i've understood, class size and tbl/pbl, very nice article, tbl and pbl approaches, article on tbl and pbl, i think both methods work, great article. but one of the, tblt & pbl, good but..., tbl approach.
Hi ebricino - thanks for the comment. You can find a task-based activity here: http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/activities/task-based-speaking
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Project-Based Learning (PBL) Benefits, Examples & 10 Ideas for Classroom Implementation
Written by Marcus Guido
Reviewed by Meredith Melvin, B.Ed.
Save time, engage your students and differentiate learning with Prodigy.
- Teacher Resources
- Teaching Strategies
- Project-based learning definition
Why is project-based learning important?
Key characteristics of project-based learning.
- What are some project-based learning examples
- 10 Project-based learning ideas for your classroom
- Notable and effective project-based learning examples
- Pros and cons of project-based learning in the 21st century
For some teachers, project-based learning (PBL) is classroom bliss.
Students work together to investigate an authentic and nuanced real-world problem. They build curriculum-aligned skills in the process. They’re rewarded with enhanced communication and problem-solving skills .
But organizing and running suitable PBL activities isn’t always easy, as the pedagogy is surrounded by debate and takes form in a range of exercises.
Find and facilitate the most appropriate project-based learning examples for your students.
These sections will help you determine if the pedagogy is worthwhile. If so, you’ll come away with a handful of effective ideas to implement easily.
What is project-based learning?
Project-based learning (PBL) or project-based instruction is a student-centered teaching method that encourages learning through engaging, real-world, curriculum-related questions or challenges.
This, of course, goes deeper than doing any old project. The goal is to get students to engage with a question or challenge that requires concentration and nuanced problem-solving skills.
This question or challenge must:
- Be open-ended
- Encourage students to apply skills and knowledge they’ve developed in your classes
- Allow students to take their own approaches to develop an answer and deliver a product
As you can see, project-based learning doesn’t conform to rote approaches or teacher-led instruction.
Driven by critical thinking, it’s often interdisciplinary and encourages students to take a rewarding-yet-challenging road to skill-building and knowledge acquisition through a nuanced learning process.
Project-based learning boosts classroom engagement and has a direct impact on how well students are prepared to enter the workforce once they graduate.
A growing focus on 21st century skills and critical thinking means project-based learning is gaining steam in education. In addition, PBL can help educators:
- Teach students personal responsibility and critical time management skills
- Design assignments that hit higher-order stages in Bloom’s taxonomy like analysis, synthesis and evaluation
- Provide multiple ways of assessing students at different stages of the project, whether through a portfolio, annotated bibliography, outline, draft product or finished project
When students leave school, they’ll need to understand that work isn’t as straightforward as lectures and homework. It’s more aligned with a project-based approach, where employees are expected to prioritize, manage their time and deliver work on a deadline. Project-based learning helps teach students:
- Creative problem-solving skills
- The importance of collaboration
- How to find the right tools for the job
- How to build independent learning and project management skills
- How to use relevant technology to find resources, communicate and produce a final product
Project-based learning is important because it helps students approach meaningful learning opportunities with curiosity, while also giving them real-world skills they’ll use for the rest of their lives.
Project-based learning isn’t just group work or a randomly assigned project. Let’s take a look at some of the key characteristics to help you build your own project-based learning assignment:
1. Project-based learning presents an open-ended, appropriately complex question.
Students should have to do deep research, draw on existing knowledge and come up with a solution in the form of a final project — whether that’s a presentation, proposal, essay or other product.
Students should have a choice in what they explore, and the questions they answer should be genuinely challenging with real-world applications.
2. Project-based learning relates to knowledge acquired through classroom lessons.
Not only should project-based learning build on your classroom lessons, but it should give students the opportunity to put them to use in a real-world setting. Project-based learning encourages students to dive deeper into the subject matter and builds on content knowledge.
Ultimately, this content knowledge should have real-world applications that students can focus on during the project.
3. Project-based learning requires students to find their own solutions to a given problem or question.
Just because the inspiration for project-based learning assignments comes from your lectures, doesn’t mean it should stay there. Effective PBL comes from requiring students to find their own solutions to a given problem — not just plugging in a formula to find the answer.
In practice, this looks like a real-world project with extended inquiry. It should be a multi-stage process with, if necessary, multiple deliverables at different stages to keep students on track.
4. Project-based learning gives students a choice in how they learn.
Students learn best when they’re studying something that captures their imagination and interest. Regardless of the end product, students should have as much autonomy as possible in what they make and how. They should learn how to communicate ideas in a group and on their own, and really bring their passion for the project to the forefront.
5. Project-based learning follows a clear, well-defined set of assessment criteria.
The best way to keep project-based learning on track and effective is to let students know what’s expected of them.
At the beginning of the project, give students a rubric and handouts outlining:
- How the project will be graded
- All the products they’ll be required to hand in
- How they should work independently or in a group
Some teachers may even choose to collaborate with students in the development of the rubric and project criteria so they may feel a deeper understanding of the project expectations.
When students know what’s expected of them, they’re more likely to succeed.
A simple example of project-based learning
The PBL process is straightforward.
- You present the issue, methods of investigation and any supplementary materials. It’s up to your students to deliver a defined product .
- Next, encourage students to reflect on their work and make revisions, ultimately delivering a presentation to their peers.
In social studies, for example, you could task students with conceptualizing and mapping out a smartphone app that addresses a problem within your country. To add a math element, they can budget the necessary resources to develop it.
Despite this clear-cut process, there’s a lot of space for diverse tasks and differentiation in general.
As a type of active learning and inquiry-based learning , examples of project-based learning depend on yourself and your students. As John Dewey famously wrote in My Pedagogic Creed :
The teacher is not in the school to impose certain ideas or to form certain habits in the child, but is there as a member of the community to select the influences which shall affect the child and to assist him in properly responding.
Following this philosophy, it’s probable – and ideal – that any project-based learning exercise you run looks different from those run by your colleagues.
What matters is prioritizing your students’ needs and learning styles above the curriculum.
10 Project-based learning ideas your class will love
As you can see, it’s not always easy to come up with a “project” that meets these requirements. Ideating a driving question into meaningful learning experiences that have real-world applications is no small task.
But that’s what we’re here to help with. Below are 10 of our ideas to inspire your project-based learning exercises.
1. Play area
Give students an opportunity to apply their geometry skills by designing a new playground for the school.
Using a range of free web applications, or simply grid paper and a pencil, task them with mapping out the playground while meeting certain conditions. These conditions should be based on including a certain number of 2D or 3D shapes in the components of the playground, such as slides and monkey bars. For example, at least two isosceles triangles, three equilateral triangles, four squares and so on. Once complete, each student must calculate the area and perimeter of his or her playground, as well as each component.
2. Your very own math story
Fuse math with visual and language arts by asking students to write their own math books .
Taking the form of an original short story, require students to cover a certain number of curriculum skills. They should explain and exemplify each skill within the context of the story, inherently allowing them to improve understanding. In exemplifying how to use a given skill, students should teach themselves its importance for a real-world scenario. You should notice improved retention as a result.
Is it hard to get your students excited about math? Try turning it into an engaging game-based learning adventure!
3. Favorite recipes
Take a mathematical approach to nutrition by having your class analyze their favorite foods and dishes for presentations about select recipes.
Each student should choose a main course, two sides and a dessert. They must then create and deliver presentations about how to make the dishes. But instead of standard cooking advice, the focus is nutritional values – calories, carbohydrates, daily vitamin intake and so on – based on the ingredients. You may need to provide a go-to resource for students to find this information, but the onus for creating a healthy meal is on them. Bon appetit !
4. What happened to the dinosaurs?
Satiate your students’ curiosity and probable love of dinosaurs by having them research and argue what caused their extinction, crafting a visual display to illustrate findings.
As the dinosaurs’ extinction remains a debate that can draw students into a rabbit hole, consider providing questions to guide their research. How did the planet change from the Triassic to Cretaceous period? How prevalent were carnivores compared with omnivores and herbivores? Such guiding questions should allow students to reach informed opinions, writing reports to defend those opinions and allowing them to craft creative visualizations.
5. Ancient civilization of needs
Combine history, anthropology and psychology through this project, requiring learners to envision newly-discovered ancient civilizations.
The basic premise is to borrow elements from other ancient societies, creating a unique one. But there’s a catch – the society must satisfy each tier in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. If students are not familiar with the theory, present it along with guiding questions.
For example, “Which tier of the pyramid is most important for society to function?” These questions should encourage students to develop a collection of products, including: a written explanation of the society and how it meets Maslow’s hierarchy of needs ; an analysis of the elements borrowed from other ancient civilizations; a visual depiction of the society and more.
6. Where it comes from
Launch this independent or paired study activity to explore how ancient machines are still present in modern-day science and engineering.
The exercise starts with each student or pair choosing a simple machine – a pulley, lever, wedge and so on – or another ancient tool. They must research the history of their tools, determining how and where scientists and engineers still use them today. Students can then envision how the same tools will work as part of inventions 100 years into the future. They can produce videos, presentations or mock interviews with inventors to showcase their research and ideas.
7. The Oscar goes to …
Have students script a part of a significant historical event to exercise their drama, history, and creative writing skills.
Whether a battle, court proceeding or formation of a powerful organization, have students choose from a list of events. Each learner’s goal is to thoroughly research an event, forming a cohesive string of scenes they’d watch in a movie or television show. This will allow them to write scripts, highlighting each figure’s motives and background. They must also pay particular attention to historical accuracy in terms of dialogue and settings. After you’ve approved each student’s script, they can form small groups and choose their favorite, acting it out in front of the class.
Encourage students to take the roles of fashion designers and marketers with a scenario that combines business with visual and language arts.
This scenario entails a client – played by you – asking fashion agencies – played by small student groups – to manage the creation and launch of a specific clothing item, such as a dress or jacket. Although your idea is crystal clear, you’re having a hard time communicating it. So, the agencies must start the project by developing a questionnaire to draw answers from you. As you respond to each agency, they can begin the next steps. These can include designing mock-ups, writing advertisements and calculating an appropriate sale price. After this work is done, each agency will pitch their version of the item to you. You determine who best captured the client’s ideas.
9. A career with math
Give students a chance to look towards the future, investigating a career path that heavily relies on math.
You can present a list of relevant careers or have students suggest their own. Either way, choosing a career will launch the investigation process. Each student must research the career, writing a brief report about how professionals use math in daily duties. From there, students should be able to choose a skill used in their selected procession, linking it to a skill in the curriculum. The final task is to write a textbook chapter that explains the skill while offering specific examples of how and when it is used in the given career.
10. The economics of pizza
Analyze, from a mathematical perspective , many students’ favorite meal: pizza.
This project-based learning assessment starts by choosing a pizza chain, researching its prices and applying linear algebra concepts to find the base cost of a pizza. These same concepts will allow students to determine how much each additional topping costs.
But the task isn’t done there. Students should research – individually or in small groups – how much it costs to source each topping. They can then determine which type of pizza yields the greatest and smallest profit margins. Doing so acts as an introduction to basic economic concepts, encouraging students to critically think about business.
Notable examples of project-based learning
Your inspiration doesn’t have to be limited to isolated activities like the ones above! There are many notable examples of project-based learning initiatives.
You’ll likely be able to freely borrow ideas from these institutions:
1. THINK Global School
Calling itself the “world’s first traveling high school,” THINK Global School has its students live in four countries per year while developing curriculum knowledge entirely through project-based learning.
The projects are rooted in the cultures and environments surrounding the students.
2. Muscatine High School
An oft-referenced example of commitment to project-based learning, Muscatine High School in Iowa worked with a third-party organization to implement project-based learning opportunities across classes and subjects.
The projects are diverse, ranging from developing personal financial plans to exploring local history through interviews with community members.
A non-profit organization, EdVisions ’ mission is “to help create and sustain great schools … using the most student-centered teaching and learning.” This largely involves partnering with schools to implement project-based learning opportunities.
The organization does so by working with a given school to identify students’ learning needs and preferences, tailoring projects to them. This serves as an important reminder: project-based learning starts and ends with students in mind.
However, educators are still asking some important questions...
With such complex demands in today’s educational system, educators worldwide are asking if elementary students can effectively complete research projects?
Will they still meet required learning objectives with the teacher serving as a guide instead of teaching the curriculum in a direct, traditional manner?
The project-based learning ideas above can be incredibly useful in the right setting and with the right students. However, there are some perceived benefits and disadvantages worth outlining.
Benefits and disadvantages of project-based learning
Debate permeates discussions about project-based learning.
It’s up to you to understand the pros and cons, applying them to your classroom situation to make a decision about a given activity.
Key benefits of project-based learning:
- Increased engagement – Project-based learning empowers students to play an active role in learning, as the complex tasks they take on demand novel approaches and are relevant to real-world contexts. This creates a classroom environment in which students overwhelmingly report feeling engaged, according to a meta analysis of 82 studies .
- Better knowledge retention – Compared with traditional instruction, extensive research indicates that students who complete project-based learning exercises and assessments often show superior knowledge retention in a range of subjects from math to second-language learning. This can translate to higher performance on tests, according to a 2011 study .
- Improved critical thinking abilities – The process of completing and delivering a project-generated product inherently builds problem-solving abilities, according to research from as recent as 2010 . This is because students must heavily exercise those abilities, applying them in tangible contexts. For these reasons, the research indicates that students in project-based learning environments can better use problem-solving skills out of school than those in traditional learning settings.
- More opportunities to explore EdTech – Project-based learning, by nature, enables students to use EdTech and explore Internet resources and technology tools. For example, independent research is likely rooted in online searches. EdTech, on the other hand, can lend itself to creating and delivering artifacts.
Disadvantages of project-based learning
- Subjectivity in assessments – When grading a project-based learning product, many critics will say you’re closing the door on objectivity. This is because, as opposed to using standardized forms of measurement, you’ll rely on subjectively assessing a range of products. For these reasons, there’s an argument that you shouldn’t use project-based learning for a large part of students’ marks.
- Hyper-focus on product creation – It’s possible for the day-to-day focus of project-based learning to transition from developing and applying essential skills to merely working on a product. When this happens, you can debate that students won’t reap benefits such as improved problem solving and knowledge retention.
- Questionable application in mathematics – Largely skill-based for elementary learners, dedicating time to project-based learning may not be the best use of time. Consider this: Would students better understand multiplication by applying it in a project-based learning context, or by running through drills and word problems ?
Armed with this knowledge, it’s ultimately your decision to bring project-based learning into your classroom.
A quality project will both engage students’ interests and align with what’s being taught, so keep that in mind for the most successful outcome.
Final thoughts on building PBL exercises
After going through this, you should have a better understanding of project-based learning as a pedagogy, as well as how to create a project design and launch it.
Just remember that the teaching method must be student-centered. What works for some teachers may not work for you, and what works for you may not work for others.
But you’ll never know until you try.
👉 Create or log in to your teacher on Prodigy – a game-based learning platform for math that’s curriculum-aligned and used by over 100 million teachers, students and parents worldwide.
What is PBL?
Project Based Learning (PBL) is a teaching method in which students learn by actively engaging in real-world and personally meaningful projects.
In Project Based Learning, teachers make learning come alive for students.
Students work on a project over an extended period of time – from a week up to a semester – that engages them in solving a real-world problem or answering a complex question. They demonstrate their knowledge and skills by creating a public product or presentation for a real audience.
As a result, students develop deep content knowledge as well as critical thinking, collaboration, creativity, and communication skills. Project Based Learning unleashes a contagious, creative energy among students and teachers.
And in case you were looking for a more formal definition...
Project Based Learning is a teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to an authentic, engaging, and complex question, problem, or challenge.
Watch Project Based Learning in Action
These 7-10 minute videos show the Gold Standard PBL model in action, capturing the nuts and bolts of a PBL unit from beginning to end.
VIDEO: The Water Quality Project
VIDEO: March Through Nashville
VIDEO: The Tiny House Project
How does pbl differ from “doing a project”.
PBL is becoming widely used in schools and other educational settings, with different varieties being practiced. However, there are key characteristics that differentiate "doing a project" from engaging in rigorous Project Based Learning.
We find it helpful to distinguish a "dessert project" - a short, intellectually-light project served up after the teacher covers the content of a unit in the usual way - from a "main course" project, in which the project is the unit. In Project Based Learning, the project is the vehicle for teaching the important knowledge and skills student need to learn. The project contains and frames curriculum and instruction.
In contrast to dessert projects, PBL requires critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, and various forms of communication. To answer a driving question and create high-quality work, students need to do much more than remember information. They need to use higher-order thinking skills and learn to work as a team.
Learn more about "dessert" projects vs PBL
The gold standard for high-quality PBL
To help ensure your students are getting the main course and are engaging in quality Project Based Learning, PBLWorks promotes a research-informed model for “Gold Standard PBL.”
The Gold Standard PBL model encompasses two useful guides for educators:
1) Seven Essential Project Design Elements provide a framework for developing high quality projects for your classroom, and
2) Seven Project Based Teaching Practices help teachers, schools, and organizations improve, calibrate, and assess their practice.
The Gold Standard PBL model aligns with the High Quality PBL Framework . This framework describes what students should be doing, learning, and experiencing in a good project. Learn more at HQPBL.org .
Yes, we provide PBL training for educators! PBLWorks offers a variety of workshops, courses and services for teachers, school and district leaders, and instructional coaches to get started and advance their practice with Project Based Learning. Learn more
See Sample Projects
Explore our expanding library of project ideas, with over 80 projects that are standards-aligned, and cover a range of grade levels and subject areas.
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Tips for Teaching Professors
Tip: Project-Based & Task-Based Learning
Discover more from Tips for Teaching Professors
Engage students in authentic assessment through creative projects..
Often we when talk about authentic assessment , the conversation focuses on alternatives to final exams or major course projects. Trying to envision how to change these high-stakes tasks can feel overwhelming, especially when connected to concerns about academic integrity . I think it’s more manageable to think first about how to incorporate offering students choices when possible, such as designing courses with more low(er) stakes assignments , or offering students options of “ buckets” of assessments , and building up to incorporating alternatives to traditional high-stakes assignments like research paper alternatives . I like focusing on smaller-stakes assignments to start, not only because they are generally simpler to re-work but also because an average course includes many more of these assignments to play around with.
I focus on these three questions when I am thinking about designing an assessment of student learning - whether that’s a high-stakes, end-of-course assessment, or a low-stakes practice activity:
Is it realistic? Does it replicate or simulate real-life contexts in which students might be asked to apply their knowledge and skills? Can students connect their performance on the assessment to real-life performance in a work- or life-related task?
Is it active? Are students expected to “do” something or create something? Do they have an opportunity to use a repertoire of knowledge and skills to negotiate a complex task?
Does it rely on critical thinking? Does it require judgment and innovation? Do students have opportunities to rehearse, practice, consult resources, and get feedback on and refine performances and products?
I’m going to share two examples from my own teaching - and I hope it goes without saying, but I offer these not as models of perfect practice but rather as always-under-construction examples.
Example #1: High-Stakes Summative Assessment
One of the major assignments I do with my pre-college composition students is a problem and solution writing assignment. Students brainstorm about problems facing college students, select a problem that really inspires them, and then propose a solution to the problem.
I think this project works well for my students for two reasons: first, it asks them to engage in a creative, real-work task of identifying & solving a problem they face; second, completing the assignment relies upon students’ prior knowledge & experiences .
Example #2: Low-Stakes Formative Assessment
In my English courses for multilingual learners, a major goal students have is to improve their written communication skills. One skill we work on is self-editing. Identifying areas in their writing that lack clarity, and then figuring out what needs to change, is a complex skill. We practice as a class and then in small groups identifying points of confusion in real examples of student writing, and then students apply the skills to their own writing. Rather than focusing on specific grammar points in isolation, they are practicing being more aware readers of their own writing and applying their pre-existing knowledge to the real-world task of self-editing.
My approach with both of these examples is inspired by task-based language teaching (TBLT) methodology, which focuses on presenting students with real-world communicative tasks, eliciting authentic language and providing a high degree of intrinsic motivation. Similarly, project-based learning (PBL) engages students in authentic tasks, encourages students to transfer skills and knowledge to other tasks and contexts, and is intrinsically motivating.
Project-based learning (PBL) has been demonstrated to be equally effective and, in some studies, more effective at increasing student learning with underrepresented minority students as it is with white and Asian students. For minority-serving institutions with open admissions policies, PBL has been demonstrated to improve students’ motivation to succeed and boost students’ self-efficacy, which translates into learning gains. (from Project-Based Learning in Minority-Serving Institutions )
What do you think?
How are you using projects in your courses? What types of real-life application tasks do you ask students to do? If you’re moving in the direction of implementing more of these types of assignments, are you seeing any difference in student performance? If you haven’t added many project-based assignments in your course, what are your hesitations?
Leave a comment
For more reading…
A review of project-based learning in higher education: Student outcomes and measures (open access from the International Journal of Educational Research , 2020)
5 Best Practices to Enhance Student Outcomes in Experiential Courses (Harvard Business Publishing)
Using Design Thinking in Higher Education (Educause)
Project-Based Learning through a Maker’s Lens (Edutopia)
PBL in Higher Education (Worchester Polytechnic Institute)
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What Is Task-Based Learning? A Guide to the Popular Teaching Method
- April 6, 2021
As global language teachers who want to stay up to date with recent developments in education (and also stay competitive when it comes to getting that dream job), we have to constantly evolve as educators and include modern ways of teaching in our lesson planning and our teaching methods. One such method that all ESL teachers should know about is task-based learning (TBL), also referred to as task-based language teaching. What is task-based learning? Read on if you’re interested in learning about this rewarding and fun teaching method!
If you’re new to teaching, you’ll want to get initial training and qualification with a TEFL certificate . You can explore our online TEFL courses to get started!
Why is task-based learning important?
- During task-based learning, students solve tasks that are relevant and interesting to them. In order to solve the task, they need to use the target language they’re learning to communicate with their peers. They use authentic language instead of answering grammar or vocabulary questions about the language. Students — especially younger learners — don’t actually feel that they’re studying a language at that moment because they’re engrossed in the task they’re working on.
- Task-based learning is especially conducive to group learning. Learning a language as a group is also a very important contributor to effective retention. Collaborating with others and becoming confident with the language within a group is a key step in acquiring that language. Also, receiving positive feedback from peers and teachers increases confidence and motivation to learn and to communicate with others.
- Students’ understanding of the language also deepens because the realistic context in which they’re learning the language is relevant to their personal lives. It’s a good idea to ask your students about their hobbies and preferences at the beginning of a course so that you can include their interests in the tasks you set.
- In addition to the benefits for students, solid knowledge of this method will also increase your job prospects as a teacher. Some job ads specifically ask for task-based language teaching experience!
What is the task-based method?
The task-based teaching approach is one of many modern ESL teaching methods and focuses on setting a goal for students — this could be a report, a video, or a presentation — and then following three main steps to achieve that goal.
1. The pre-task
During this stage, which can take up a whole lesson if needed, the teacher introduces the task to the students and gets them motivated to solve it. Once everyone is engaged, the teacher should explain what is expected for the task.
Verbal explanations can be supported by an example from the teacher or by showing a previous student’s work. The teacher can then give further instructions if needed and offer advice on how to approach the task.
2. The task
This is the main stage of task-based learning, where students start working on the task, usually in groups or pairs. This stage is done in the target language so that students feel the need to use the language they want to learn in order to solve the task.
The teacher doesn’t usually join in the work process. Instead, he or she will monitor the students and offer hints if students really need support.
Find out about teaching English online to groups.
3. The review (or post-task)
Once the students have completed the task and have something to present, the review stage, also known as the post-task, starts.
It’s a good idea to let students evaluate each other’s work and only offer a teacher review of frequently-made errors during the task. Peer correction could be carried out in the form of comments, feedback discussions, or a checklist with additional room for free commentary.
The review stage offers students the opportunity to reflect on their work and analyze it in order to improve their skills for the future.
What is a task (vs. an activity)?
Task-based learning uses a lesson structure that incorporates different activities to solve a task. The task can span the length of an entire lesson or, if it’s project-based learning, it can take up several lessons to complete.
Essentially, the task is the big-picture assignment that students are trying to complete or solve, and the activities are the individual steps or exercises they take to achieve the task.
Examples of tasks include:
- Creating a presentation
- Making a video or short movie
- Writing a piece of text, such as a newsletter article
- Acting out a skit
- Creating an original game that includes writing down the game rules, playing the game, and evaluating the game
- Working out the solution to a practical problem, such as planning an upcoming trip or gathering missing information, like working out who started a rumor at school
- Participating in a group debate or discussion, like arguing for a favorite competitor in a TV show
You can develop some great tasks using these fun ESL games and activities for young learners and teens.
What is a task-based activity?
A task-based activity is a procedure in which students have to use the target language in order to achieve a specific outcome. The best TBL activities reflect real-life situations, so the students can see that the lesson is relevant to their own lives.
One of the main task-based learning advantages is that the activities allow students to use the language they know freely and exploratively as long as they are able to complete the overall task. Error correction can be done at the end of the lesson if necessary but not during the activity, so you encourage fluency and motivate students to use the language.
Learn more about correcting students’ mistakes with the Micro-credential Course in Error Correction in the EFL Classroom.
An example of a task-based activity could be to have each student draw a comic picture and explain the content and the inspiration behind it to the group. They then have to collaborate to put together a comic strip that includes each student’s picture, which is the main task (to create an original comic strip).
- You can also use task-based language teaching and task-based activities in the online classroom. You can have students submit their work and you can share the results with the group. Then, everyone can work together on the main task that you previously set.
Learn more about creating materials for the EFL classroom!
How can you apply a task-based approach to your teaching?
As an English teacher, you will not get around the “boring stuff,” such as grammar drills and vocabulary work. You also have to keep in mind that your students need to practice all four skills: writing, reading, speaking, and listening.
However, keeping the drills and language exercises to a necessary minimum and including more task-based learning in your curriculum can help students use the target language immediately and retain words and grammar points more effectively.
Here are two examples of task-based lesson plans:
In the physical classroom (with a group of 10-15 teenagers)
- Greeting and warm-up: While the students are settling in, you can play a song that’s popular among your students. You can let them sing along if they know the song well!
- Assign the task and give instructions: “Create your own music video in groups of 4-5 students using a song of your choice. Everybody has to have a role, from managing the camera to coming up with choreography to performing in the video. You have this lesson for planning and the next lesson for filming. We will watch all of the videos in the third lesson and give feedback to each other.”
- Do the task: Let students gather in groups and start planning their video. Monitor their language and teamwork, and take notes. Make sure that everybody is engaged and involved and that there are no students who are just standing by.
- Review: Before the lesson ends, give brief and motivating feedback to the students, and praise them for their efforts and their use of the language. Remind the students to be ready to start filming during the next lesson.
In the online classroom (with around 5 young learners)
- Greeting and warm-up: Call out each student’s name and show each of them a card with a different word on it. It could be “dog,” “play,” “boy,” “girl,” “sunny,” etc. Have each student read their word out loud.
- Assign the task and give instructions: “Create a short story that includes all of the words I gave you just now. You can decide the order of the words and how you use them in your story. You can add as many words and plot twists as you like. Each student has to contribute at least one sentence. Please start.”
- Do the task: Watch the students on camera and take notes. If communication between them comes to a standstill, you can provide some support by asking questions, such as “What do you think could happen next?” or “Who can come up with the next idea?” or “Who wants to include their word next?” Your support should encourage the students to participate without giving them an idea straight away. Finally, have the students write down the story that they created. They can then take turns reading it out loud, one sentence at a time.
- Review: Praise your students for their effort and teamwork, and applaud their story. Let the students have time for self-reflection and respond to questions such as “What did you do especially well today?” or “What would you like to improve for next time?”
If you’re not comfortable with task-based language teaching just yet, don’t let that discourage you. You can envision using this teaching method as your personal task. Set yourself a goal, try TBL out in your next lesson, and review your class afterward to reflect on what to improve and what went well!