Project Based Learning (PBL)

The introduction of Project Based Learning (PBL) is an innovation that has made St Joseph’s College’s approach to instruction unique in the Geelong area. PBL is the educational approach for Year 8 and 9 in 2017. At Year 8, PBL is incorporated into English, Humanities, Religious Education, Science and Health/PE units as well as some extension into other subject areas and electives. 

What Is PBL?

PBL is a teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to a complex question, problem or challenge. Students engage in rigorous projects within discreet disciplines and at times integrated with other subject areas. PBL follows the Victorian Curriculum standards with a focus on challenging students to investigate curriculum that has a real world connection. Students develop 21st century skills in technology use, collaboration, presentation skills, investigation and communication in order to create rigorous and authentic learning products.

What Skills Are Developed In Project Based Learning?

PBL has a strong focus on the development of 21st century skills through informal and formal assessment. These skills include:
  • Critical Thinking Skills  focus on a student’s ability to think creatively and innovatively, analyse, synthesise, and apply information to new concepts.
  • Teamwork Skills  focus on a student’s ability to cooperate with other students and manage relationships appropriately in order to achieve a common goal.
  • ICT Skills  focus on a student’s ability to use a wide range of current technology with or without assistance.
  • Literacy Skills focus on a student’s ability to deconstruct an understanding of how to complete a task, focusing on reading and writing.
  • Presentation Skills  focus on a student’s ability to present their projects to an audience in a confident manner using a wide range of resources to enhance the presentation.
  • Organisational Skills focus on a student’s ability to meet deadlines by planning projects and setting and achieving goals.

So Why The Need For Change? 

Industrial age classrooms are failing to provide students with the necessary skills to be competitive and successful in the 21st century. Businesses and organisations require individuals who can demonstrate skills in critical thinking, creativity and problem solving. They must also be proficient at working in teams, displaying presentation skills and exhibiting effective leadership qualities. 
The most recent Grattan Report on education, “Engaging students: Creating classrooms that improve learning” (Goss & Sonnerman, 2017), argues that as many as 40 per cent of Australian school students are falling behind due to disengagement from their classwork. While it is still unclear why some students disengage from classwork and others don’t, research consistently agrees that what teachers do and say, matter. PBL seeks to address student engagement by maintaining high expectations of all students, building strong teacher-student relationships, providing clear and structured instruction and ensuring that students are actively participating in their own learning – key features identified in the research to improving student learning outcomes. PBL within St Joseph’s seeks to develop “global-ready” students through Compassion, Innovation & Integrity.