Why Your Child Needs Project-Based Learning?
Co-Authored by Shalini Patel, Co-Founder and Maya Corrin
It’s impossible to argue that we do not live in a collaborative space as inhabitants of a shared world. The best, most creative ideas and in-depth solutions come from tackling complex problems and projects. At IGA, we believe that this project-based learning should start as early as possible for our girls to reap the greatest benefits.
In Cain and Cocco’s article, “Leadership Development through Project Based Learning,” they discuss the evolved nature of leadership in society. We have transitioned from what they call a “hierarchical model” to “industrial models”. In this industrial model, leadership is shared amongst team members, especially in STEAM fields. Through project-based learning, students learn how being an effective leader and a valuable team member are intrinsically intertwined. Through concept integration, peer collaboration, and real-world/big-picture application Cain and Cocco saw positive qualities such as diversity awareness, risk-taking, communication skills, and teamwork skills improve in students. These observed benefits directly correlate to IGA’s five pillars: inspiring success, cultivating, leadership, breaking boundaries, focusing on risk-taking, and collaborating with the community. Project-based learning, therefore, is a natural model for IGA’s curriculum.
Project-based learning is a holistic approach to problem solving that leads to holistic benefits for our girls—building their skillset, confidence, and teamwork skills. Projects enhance self and external awareness as students apply learned concepts to real-world situations in a community environment.
Our girls will learn at what times to guide boldly and what times to ask for guidance shamelessly. They will learn the subtle but important difference between confidence and egocentrism as they come to define themselves as a valuable part of a valuable team.
In the book, Setting the Standard for Project Based Learning, Larmer, Mergendoller, and Boss, write of the many benefits of well-executed project-based learning models. They write that this style of learning aims to “develop what cognitive scientists call ‘usable knowledge’—knowledge that’s not just recalled for a test but that once learned, can be used in daily life and problem solving.” This concept of usable knowledge situates learned facts in the context of the everyday, which is a more accessible and memorable way for our girls to learn.
The American Institutes for Research quantified these benefits in 2014 when they studied schools with strong project-based curriculums. They found positive correlations between this style of learning and the trajectory of students. These students scored higher in all subjects on state exams, were 9-percent more likely to graduate high school, reported higher levels of collaboration, engagement, self-efficacy, and motivation, and were more likely to enroll in four-year colleges. We, at IGA, know that project-based learning will inspire this same success (if not greater) in our students.
Effective, well-structured project-based learning in schools has profound effects on not only subject retention, but also the self-concept of students—a valuable part of a girl’s character that too often gets lost in the classroom. Project-based learning engages and motivates girls in tasks in a way that will make a difference to themselves, their peers, and the greater community—promoting innovation, collaboration, curiosity, humbleness, education and authenticity. IGA commits to this learning style and is confident that our project-based learners will one day be project-based leaders ready and eager to tackle the challenges of their generation.