Thoughts on overcoming most common PBL difficulties

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    One of the most common (if not the most common) problem of PBL is that most of students are completely new to active learning and not used to it. The stronger reference that an average student has about learning is that of classic, passive education. Students are mainly hearing the teacher talk and they answer questions only if being told to do so.
    People in general are more likely to learn something when they have a choice on what and how they are being taught. With that in mind, allowing students to make their own decisions would be a good starting point. Setting assignments with specific criteria but leaving the format open-ended (writing an essay, song, or making a short film about a topic) could be one implementation.

    Another issue that may arise from implementing PBL in a class is projects themselves. Like before students are used to common school project and maybe treat PBL projects as such, losing interest and engagement.
    Teachers can overcome this in many ways:

    • Make student work public. Create an audience for students in order to create extra purpose for them.
    • Create projects in such ways that students have to interfere actively with other students and teachers.
    • Arrange meetings and provide sources, material and feedback.

    There is a pattern that can be observed in classic school projects. A small percentage of students handle all the heavy work while most of the others in the team refuse to cooperate. The work is not evenly distributed and the concept of collaboration is shaken.
    An approach to this would be to give each student individual tasks while also removing grades for group work. In this way every student in the team is responsible for a part of the group project and has to collaborate with others in order to complete the final big group task. Teachers can help by coaching students on how to collaborate, establishing guidelines and roles and also setting specific criteria.

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