Learning has the potential to increase a student's feeling of responsibility
for, and control over, her own learning. Students who are allowed
to define their own learning goals will be more engaged in learning.
You can involve students in this process by helping them create
their project assignment or project checklist. This pre-project
activity gives students valuable experience in planning, and in
setting their own goals and standards of excellence.
working with learners to create individual project checklists, you
and your students engage in a valuable discussion of learning goals,
student interests, student and teacher expectations, personal strengths
and weaknesses, and problem solving strategies. Such discussions
can help build more authentic projects, in that they reflect student
interests and skills. Using individualized checklists also allows
students to pursue and experiment with different strategies. Allowing
students to choose personal approaches to problems simulates real-world
tasks in which multiple views and methods compete in the search
for a solution.
Project Based Learning may be used with all learners: to give structure
to those who desire it, flexibility to those who crave it, or to
allow time for building skills that are personally challenging.
are obvious applications for students with special needs, but individualizing
instruction in this manner benefits all students.
checklists not only help learners target certain skills, but they
also help improve metacognition, self-regulation, and motivation.
her own checklist will help a student think about what skills she
already has, what skills she needs to improve, and what skills she
may still need to acquire to complete a project. Together,
you may also choose to hold a student responsible for setting a
timeline and generating assessment criteria. How will the items
on a student's checklist be weighted? Will the product be the goal?
Or will assessment be integrated with the project, checking progress
during the project in addition to the final product? When
a student helps define her own goals and monitor her own progress,
she becomes more self-regulated.
importantly, involving students in project planning will engage
them in their own learning. This ownership excites learners and
often increases the effort they are willing to put forth. Authentic
projects with a student voice help connect the world of school with
a student's own experiences, making learning more relevant, more
equitable, and more enjoyable.