While project-based learning offers students a hands-on approach when it comes to learning, it has its own unique set of challenges. Project-based learning is efficient and effective in the sense that it allows students to have a practical approach when it comes to learning, and also exposes them to practicalities compared to traditional approaches to learning which are ore of theoretical compared to practical.
Adapting to Project-Based Learning
Traditional approaches to earning involve an instructor imparting knowledge to a group of students in a class. However, when it comes to project-based learning, the approach is more of practice than theory Students have to form groups and work together towards the realization of the objectives of a particular project, which could be to come up with a model or to meet a predetermined set of targets. Students who are used to traditional learning approaches may find it difficult to switch to project-based learning, which may hamper the entire learning process.
On the part of instructors, instructors may also find it challenging to oversee project-based learning – thanks to the complexities involved in coming up with functional and working groups of students, allocating them tasks, as well as assessing them accurately.
Monitoring and Evaluation
Monitoring and evaluating students individually is more effective compared to assessing groups of students. At times, group work involves the efforts of multiple individuals, and some students get the opportunity of getting away with doing less work than is required. Further, coming up with optimal metrics for monitoring and evaluating the work of students might be a bit challenging.
Determining the input of every student in the group is difficult since establishing what each student did in their group in the absence of close supervision is a futile exercise. On this account, some students may end up completing the project without gaining the necessary skills that the project intends. Some students could end up gaining two skills out of a required four or five. These disparities mean that not all students will be at par at the end of the course, which puts the monitoring and evaluation techniques used into question.
Coming Up With Genuine Projects
The issue of coming up with projects that are genuine and authentic comes in the way of project-based learning. Authentic projects are projects that have concise objectives, projects which have definite time schedules for completion, and those projects which prompt students to do research and collaborate. Coming up with such projects is not an easy task, and more often than not, instructors task students with manufactured projects.
An effective way around this is to allow students to give suggestions about the nature of projects that they want to handle.
Traditional approaches to learning are straight forward and do not involve significant time wastage as is the case in the implementation of project-based learning. There is a lot of time wasted in the process of students forming their groups, identifying their goals for that particular day, and the actual working on the project. Time wasted delays the completion of the overall learning process, and in effect, hampers the effectiveness of the project-based learning approach. Moreover, since project-based learning goes with set timeframes and schedules, slight errors in time management could weigh in significantly in other areas like monitoring and evaluation.
At times, you might find some students discussing other things that are not related to the project. Some students may end up working more on a project compared to others, due to the wastage of time by other students in activities that are non-relevant to the project.
A key challenge in project-based learning is getting students to work together in a team. Different students understand concepts under different learning scenarios. There are those students who do well under traditional approaches to learning, and there are those who do well under project-based learning approaches. Harnessing and fostering teamwork among a group of students, and making them work in a team is a key challenge that instructors face when it comes to project-based learning.
Different students work differently, and coordinating these students to work in tandem may prove to be an uphill task. Some students work best when alone while others can do more as a team. In such a scenario, the student who works better alone will find it difficult to join a team and work on a particular project. This is a challenge that often manifests itself when it comes to group work and project-based learning in general.
To sum this up, project-based learning offers different methods and techniques of learning compared to traditional methods, which, at times, have the potential of giving amazing results. However, there are challenges associated with project-based learning. The group work approach in project-based learning sometimes makes it difficult for students to progress individually. It also makes monitoring, evaluation, and accurate assessment difficult, and instructors may end up with inaccurate assessments about the performance of students. Inaccurate assessments have the impact of giving false impressions about students.
Since the whole learning process depends on the integrity and the accuracy of abilities of students, the challenges that exist in the assessment of students when it comes to project-based learning makes it difficult to know how students are faring in their studies.