Projects may have their place in education. They sometimes motivate students, they are sometimes very memorable, and they are a nice break from the difficult work of learning. There’s just one problem. Project based learning sucks at teaching students. I’m not saying that students learn nothing. I’m just saying that project based learning is slow, untargeted, and a breeding ground for learning incorrect “knowledge” that will have to be corrected later.
Think about it this way: Here you are in a class where you’re supposed to be learning important information from a qualified expert. But instead, you’re given a task to work on with a bunch of other students; none of whom are experts. I hope you didn’t pay for that.
Here are some great quotes about project based learning from dental students at: http://forums.studentdoctor.net/showthread.php?t=199984
My school is mostly traditional with a little PBL thrown in. Honestly, I think it wastes time. It’s just not a very efficient way of learning. You spend a lot of time researching, presenting, and listening to superfluous information that really is of no use when you get to clinic. Traditional lectures by comparison present what is important for understanding, diagnosing and treating disease in an efficient manner. Researching topics for PBL courses just gave me less time to study and think about other courses
PBL sucks! such a waste of time, counter productive! You can tell that the instructors in your group are just winging it. I don’t believe that they even look over the materials before the session! “so what do you think about that?” “and why is that?” “what can you do in that situation?” blahh, blah, blah….
Listen up…..I will have nothing more important to say….PBL IS THE MOST RIDICULOUS WASTE OF TIME EVER IMAGINED!!!!!! They try to fill your head with this BS about how great it is and how it will help…but all it does is waste 6 hours of your busy life a week. Then you spend the rest of your “free” time trying to guess what is going to be on the test and what you were supposed to “get” from the case. If the objective is not crystal clear, guess what….YOU’RE SCREWED.
PBL ruined the physics curriculum here at UC Davis. For those of you who have had CPM (College Preperatory Mathematics) back in high school or junior high, that is what PBL is; the worst method of learning ever conceived!
I can’t imagine PBL being any better at a dental school. Sorry gabrielmeraz, I can’t find your argument very convincing. I can’t imagine learning from classmates who know less than or equal to me. I’m not a bright guy and I can’t expect the guy next to me to carry me through a ‘case study’; that doesn’t work for me.
The hours are just wasted there (in pbl at IU). Everyone has to say SOMETHING during pbl or they will fail, but it doesn’t really count WHAT they say. So, you basically are listening to babbling about nothing for 9 hours per week. I am sincerely trying to prevent anyone who is irritated by wasted time from becoming extremely frustrated. There are some things that you HAVE to learn during dental school. There is only so much time to do it in, and wasting precious time, when you could actually be learning from an expert (or at least studying – maybe even unwinding) is not my cup of tea. I survived it, but I will never get that time back. I had to study my butt off to do well on the boards part I, because so much material was neglected due to pbl. (It was not presented in class, because we were supposed to have learned so much during pbl).
First, it has to do with my personality. I sit and think before I answer anything. That’s kind of a no-no in PBL. You are expected to kind of just blurt things out. Other people were inclined this way and also just naturally very verbal….hence I was drowned out. I just don’t think so fast. Also, I’m not a group type person. I work and learn best alone or with just one other person.
Second, I don’t think it’s efficient. At UConn, during the first year, we are overwhelmingly busy with tons and tons of material that we will be questioned on in detail come exam time. Spending six hours per week to review a miniscule portion of the curriculum in detail didn’t work for me…..or anyone else that I know of. I was constantly behind (although I ended up in the second quintile examwise).
Third, considering the cases we were given for PBL in first year, only one of them was truly practical and memorable because it was dentally oriented. Knowing the structure of an RBC intimatley, for example, just ain’t practical when you are planning to be a dentist. You need to learn to be a dentist.
I’ve heard that some schools have become entirely PBL, and are trying to eliminate lecture based learning. This is ridiculous and certainly would have robbed me of a lot of learning. Schools need to stop and look at just how much we need to learn and think about the fact that there are only 24 hours in a day and you just don’t have the time to sit around coming up with all the information on your own. There is way way too much to learn.
Seriously awesome quotes there.
One of the biggest problems I see with project based learning is that it’s extremely unfocused. Students may learn some things, but chances are, most of what they learn won’t be what they are supposed to learn, and won’t be covered by the test.
You also have the problem of students “learning” from other students in their groups. Listen, I know this is not a politically correct thing to say, but here it goes. This observation comes from my experience as both a student and teacher: Other students are idiots. Don’t learn from them.
In my opinion, projects are best done after students have learned the material. In this case, the project has nothing to do with learning; it’s just practice.
Projects are for practice; not learning. – Me
See if you can tell what students are supposed to “learn” from this “lesson”
Watch the video below and try to answer the following questions.
- What are the students supposed to learn?
- What did the teacher teach them?
- Did any of the students learn the material?
- Did the students learn any new information?
- If they learned anything at all, was it correct information, or misinformation?
- Did the students learn anything important, or did they go off an tangents?
My guess is you couldn’t answer any of the questions. Neither could I.
Contrast that video with the one below about EDI (explicit direct instruction). See if you can answer the same questions.
See what I mean? EDI rocks when it comes to teaching. Project based learning sucks at teaching. Teach first, then do a project as practice.
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