Tuesday, May 12, 2009
How projects provide opportunities for deeper thinking in the classroom.
I think that useful projects are the application of facts and details. Some projects can help to organize the information to make it more visual or to see the relationship of the details to each other. A weak project is for reiterating the facts that were memorized. A good project makes you think about the material and apply it. A powerpoint just puts the details in a nice order with pretty colors and pictures. It doesn't help you to understand the material, and students spend so much time on the prettiness of the slides that they pay little attention to the content. A research project will allow a student to learn facts plus how those facts affect other facts (cause and effect). You find real-life and scenario examples. A project can encourage students to think more about the topic instead of just reading the material. A high level project could help with mastery of the material instead of just memorization. I push for projects that use prior knowledge and apply it to new situations. Group projects don't always help students to understand the material. Some students don't contribute or contribute less than others. You are not able to truly see who does and does not understand the the material. Group projects are not accurate assessments. Doing Powerpoint slides of the materials does allow for students to "handle" and think about the material, but that is like fancy notes. You can have a good Powerpoint and not understand the material. Students could also plagiarize. It depends on the quality of the project assigned.