Project based learning an active methodolgy
| Dr. Rita Aguilar Gonzalez - 01 Apr 2022

Students have changed, people have changed, the whole world is changing day by day. So why hasn´t school changed? Why are there teachers who still use traditional methods and techniques to teach? Why do students get bored in classes? Why don´t students learn? These are only a few questions that come to my mind when I think of having a better education.

I am an education lover. Love to teach, but also love to learn. I love to look for and find teaching methods and techniques that could motivate my students and therefore they will motivate their students to learn.

I have a Ph.D. in Educational Sciences; I teach at private universities; major and post grades levels. My post-grade level students are teachers already, so I am obligated to teach using different teaching methodologies, techniques, and activities. Hoping that everything seen, practiced, and learned in my classes will be helpful for them, for their students. I always recommend my students to “Be the teacher, you once wanted to have”.

During my research I found out that active methodologies are a great way to change from traditional teaching to student-centered teaching approaches, using active methodologies. An active methodology is defined according to Freeman as The active methodologies engage students in the learning process through activities and/or debates in the classroom, instead of passively listening to the teacher. They emphasize higher-order thinking and often involve teamwork.

Learning and teaching methodologies are divided into two: passive and active, as we can see in the following learning pyramid of William Glasser:

  1. Passive methodologies: reading, writing, observing, seeing, and listening
  2. Active Methodologies: Discussing, practicing, and teaching.

Active learning "derives from two basic assumptions: (1) that learning is by nature an active endeavor and (2) that different people learn in different ways" (Meyers and Jones, 1993).

“Research has made it abundantly clear that the quality of teaching and learning is improved when students have enough opportunities to clarify, question, apply, and consolidate new knowledge” (Shiksha and Nadu, 2007).

There are a few active methodologies for teaching and learning such as:

  1. Project-Based Learning (PjBL)
  2. Problem Based Learning (PBL)
  3. Challenge-based learning
  4. Case study learning
  5. Peer or team learning

This writing will only focus on a) Project-based learning (PjBL). In PjBL students have the opportunity to learn in a constructive form by developing their affective, cognitive, and psychomotor competencies during the complete project task, a project that their students can decide on taken from real-life problems. (PjBL) is based on the constructivist pedagogy intending to bring about deep learning trying to allow the students to use an inquiry-based approach engaging them with rich, real, and relevant questions on the topic being studied. Project-based learning comes from constructivist learning (Vygostky, Piaget, and Ausubel) and discovery-based learning methods (Brunner), “both of which rely on the inquiry process and students’ ability to devise solutions based on their perspective and thinking”, (Nizwardi, 2017).

Project-based learning is a student-center learning approach, where students can improve their competencies. Teacher guides, assess, and facilitate students in their learning process, Project-based learning can be summarized as being a collaborative, progressive, interactive, and deep learning process at any level and in any subject contrary to traditional teaching/traditional learning.

For Nizwardi the Project-based learning model consists of three stages going through seven steps. Even though Nizwardi developed his model for engineering students, I consider it is useful for any level and class.

Stage one Skill competencies debriefing

  1. Step 1: The formulation of expected learning outcomes
  2. Step 2: Understanding the concept of teaching material
  3. Step 3: Skills training

Stage two Project work:

  1. Step 4: Designing the project theme
  2. Step 5: Making the project proposal
  3. Step 6: Executing the tasks of a project

Stage three Evaluation

  1. Step 7: Presentation of the project report

Project-based learning counts with a variety of benefits for students as well as for teachers.

  1. First of all, PjBL promotes the 4 Cs for the 21st Century Skills
  • Communication: reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills integrating the Information and Communication Technology (ICT).
  • Collaboration: students work together to achieve one common goal, in PjBL; the project.
  • Critical thinking: for Socrates around 2,500 years ago, it meant questioning ourselves trying to figure out the best solution. Facione’s (1990) definition is “purposeful, self-regulatory judgment which results in interpretation, analysis, evaluation, and inference, as well as explanation of the evidential, conceptual, methodological, criterion-logical, or contextual considerations upon which that judgment is based”
  • Creativity: the process of creating new things from old and new ideas. Processing thoughts generates new ideas and objects.

And I would add a 5th C, Joe Ruhl in his TEDx talk – Teaching methods for students of the future mentions the importance of integrating into each class

  • Caring: show love for your students, students will learn better in an environment where they are cared for, where they feel comfortable.
  1. Engagement: students’ engagement with their project
  2. Improves learning process
  3. Builds real-life successful skills
  4. Provides opportunities for research
  5. Authentic opportunities to use technology
  6. Learn by doing.

And for and schools the benefits when Project-based learning method when used by its teachers in class are:

  1. It increases great student satisfaction with the classroom environment.
  2. Improves students´ perception of the school.

Being a teacher is not an easy job, but it sure is fun, motivating, and inspiring for me. The teaching-learning process is difficult, and if we, teachers are not motivated when we teach, we cannot have motivated students, so why not try different methods where students are active, where they are the center of their learning process, such as Project-based learning.


Tell me and I forget,

Teach me and I remember,

Involve me and I will learn.  Benjamin Franklin.

Boss, S., & Larmer, J. (2018). Project-based teaching. California: Buck Institute for Education.

Donnelly, R., & Fitzmaurice, M. (2005). Collaborative Project-based Learning and Problem-based Learning in Higher Education. Dublin: Learning and teaching center.

Konopka, L. L., Bohrer, M., & Henrique, P. (2015). Active Teaching and Learning Methodologies; Some considerations. Creative Education, 2015, 1536-1545.

Nizwardi, J., Rahmat, A. N., & Aznil, M. (2017). The Seven Steps of Project-Based Learning Model to Enhance Productive Competences of Vocational Students. The Seven Steps of Project-Based Learning Model to Enhance Productive Competences of Vocational Students. Padang, Indonesia: Advances in Social Science, Education and Humanities Research, volume 102.

Shiksha Abhiyan, S., & Nadu, T. (05 de 2007). Active learning methodology. Active learning methodology. Adyar, Chennai, India: The School, Krishnamurti Foundation India.

TEDxLafayette, J. R. (Dirección). (2016). Teaching Methods for Inspiring the Students of the Future [Película].

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