Digital Age Teaching and Learning

Are You Committing One of the Three Most Common Mistakes in PBL?

Are You Committing One of the Three Most Common Mistakes in PBL?

If your PBL journey is a little bumpier than you initially expected, it could be because you are committing one of the most common mistakes in PBL.  Read below to see if you are making one of these three mistakes.

Mistake Number One: You Allow the Kids to Do It Alone

Project-based learning and self-directed learning are closely intertwined; however, in neither of these methods should you simply leave the kids to do it all alone.  Now, that might sound like common sense, but the truth is that it is a struggle to find the right balance; when you are used to exercising full control of your classroom, it can be all too easy to swing drastically in the other direction.

When switching over to PBL, especially with children who have no past experience with it, you are looking at a process of gradual release.  You start by working on building their drive to learn—something that is innate but often gets pushed aside over time.  Then, slowly introduce choice, building to give them more and more choices to make.

Mistake Number Two: Seeking Out a Rigid Structure or “Right Way”

Not sure where to start?  You aren’t alone.  As PBL gets bigger and more schools are looking to emphasize it, thousands of teachers are trying to re-train themselves so they can implement it in their own classrooms.  The problem for many is that they are seeking a rigid structure, a clear guide that shows them the right way to do it.

But PBL is all about flexibility.  It can mold to fit the needs of your group and of individual students; there is no one-size-fits-all approach.  The only defining quality is that the students learn as they do, rather than the traditional model of learning then doing.

Mistake Number Three: Confusing Equality with Equity

It is a short coming in many education programs, and in our thinking in general: failing to differentiate between equality and equity.  When we seek equality, we seek to treat everyone the same.  When we seek to treat people with equity, we seek to give them what they need in order to succeed.

In other words, a major pitfall of PBL and teaching in general is working hard to treat all students the same.

This can be a struggle at first, but you have to accept that acknowledging differences is not the same as giving or taking away value.  All learners in your classroom are incredible people, but they are also individual people with varied needs.

Why is this so vital to success with PBL?  Because these unique and varied individuals are directing themselves in their learning.  Their differences as individuals will lead to difference in interest, direction, and result.  You must be ready to receive all the possibilities and be ready to step in with various struggles as they present themselves.

Are You Making One of These Three Mistakes?

If you are, don’t beat yourself up: when you know better, you do better.  Instead, start working to address these problems so that you can lead your students to success with PBL.

Ready to get back on track?  Check out our post that answers frequently asked questions about PBL.