Project-Based Learning: An Assessment From the Perspective of the Spanish University Teacher

Project-Based Learning: An Assessment From the Perspective of the Spanish University Teacher

María Pache-Durán (University of Extremadura, Spain), Esteban Pérez-Calderón (University of Extremadura, Spain) and Alicia Fernanda Galindo-Manrique (Institute of Technology and Higher Education of Monterrey, Mexico)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2124-3.ch010

Abstract

This study focuses on the results obtained from the teacher's assessment of Project-Based Learning, a methodological approach that implies a change in the university pedagogical paradigm that affects both the teaching and learning processes. To this end, a study is carried out taking as a sample university teachers during the academic year 2018-2019. Among the results obtained, it is worth mentioning that the teacher considers the Project-Based Learning a methodology that favours in the classroom, constituting a valid alternative to improve the quality of learning in university students.
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Introduction

Today, we are faced with an educational environment where teachers seek to find solutions to the low academic performance of students who are observed in their results, which has become increasingly accentuated in recent years. For this reason, the teacher carries out teaching strategies that are applied in the teaching-learning process of the students. Thus, a new methodology called Project-Based Learning (PBL) arises, which is based on the principle of the construction of learning by students, who become the protagonist capable of carrying out self-study activities and developing skills such as decision making and information search and analysis skills, in contrast to the purely traditional model that was being used in classrooms, where the teacher was the main figure, creator and disseminator of ideas, for a later evaluation of the students' knowledge.

Although PBL may be seen as an aspect of more and more learning techniques, there may be great confusion and ignorance about this term. This method is often referred to in the literature review as Problem Based Learning (PBL) or Inquiry-Based Learning (IIL).

As early as the 1930s, Dewey (1938) affirmed the need to apply real-life problems to teaching through problem-solving techniques. Decades later, Gagné (1965) confirms that scientific concepts applied through research-based methods produced significant learning. Thus, in the 1960s, the Mac Master University School of Medicine in Canada began its development in this methodology. Since then, this educational approach has been put into practice at Universities such as Maastricht (Holland) and Newcastle (Australia), also creating schools implementing the PBL in their curricular structure. From the nineties, its theoretical bases were analysed and discussed in greater depth. As a result, a multitude of possible definitions can now be found in the literature (Savery, 2015; Morales, 2018). The PBL constitutes, therefore, a teaching philosophy carried out since 1968 in America, and since 1974 in Europe (Martínez & Cravioto, 2002).

Barrows (1986) defines the PBL as “a learning method based on the principle of using problems as a starting point for the acquisition and integration of new knowledge”. For their part, Morales and Landa (2004) define it as “a teaching-learning strategy that begins with a real or realistic problem, in which a team of students meets to look for a solution”. Its fundamental characteristics are (Barrows, 1996):

  • 1.

    Learning is learner-centred.

  • 2.

    Learning takes place in small groups of students.

  • 3.

    Teachers are facilitators or guides.

  • 4.

    Problems form the focus of organization and stimulation for learning.

  • 5.

    Teachers are facilitators or guides. Problems are a vehicle for the development of clinical problem-solving skills.

  • 6.

    New information is acquired through self-directed learning.

According to Marra, Jonassen, Palmer and Luft (2014), the main characteristics of a PBL teaching environment are as follows:

  • 1.

    Problem-centred Learning: Contents and skills to be learned organized around real authentic problems.

  • 2.

    student-centred Learning: A series of cognitive and affective processes are deployed to investigate and solve the problem.

  • 3.

    Self-direction: Students are required to take responsibility.

  • 4.

    Self-reflection: Students are encouraged to monitor their understanding and learning in order to adjust their strategies.

  • 5.

    Collaborative Work: Exchange is stimulated.

  • 6.

    Teacher Scaffolding: Acting as a facilitator whose fundamental role is to model and guide processes of reasoning, information search and integration, facilitate group processes, and formulate questions to inquire about the accuracy, relevance, and depth of information analysis.

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