Teacher Tap

Project, Problem, and Inquiry-based Learning

What are problem, project, and inquiry based learning?

How are these approaches alike and different?

How do I choose the best approach for my technology-rich classroom?

microscopeA project-based approach is enjoyable for everyone involved. Can fun activities really promote learning? Over the past decade an increasing number of studies have shown the positive impact of project-based learning on achievement.

eye is for essentialRead Start With the Pyramid from Edutopia. Then, read Project-Based Learning Research from Edutopia. Explore one of the studies discussed in the article. Explore Project-Based Learning: At a Glance from Edutopia. Read one of their articles.

Explore the Approaches

Project-based learning, problem-based learning, and inquiry-based learning all three closely relate to the information processing approach. They all fit well with technology-rich learning environments where the focus is not on the hardware and software, but on the learning experience. In each case, technology is used to facilitate learning. It may be a tool to organize ideas (such as Inspiration), search for current information (such as an online news source), or present ideas (such as PowerPoint presentations). However the focus of learning environment is the student's excitement about solving a problem or addressing an issue they find meaningful.
eye is for essentialRead Introducing Project-Based Learning from Edutopia.

Be sure to read all eight pages. These will lead you through an example project.

Project-based Learning

An approach to learning focusing on developing a product or creation. The project may or may not be student-centered, problem-based, or inquiry-based.
Explore the following websites as needed for more information:

Problem-based Learning

An approach to learning focusing on the process of solving a problem and acquiring knowledge. The approach is also inquiry-based when students are active in creating the problem.

Explore the following websites as needed for more information:

Inquiry-based Learning

A student-centered, active learning approach focusing on questioning, critical thinking, and problem-solving. It's associated with the idea "involve me and I understand."

Explore the following websites as needed for more information:

The "Best" Approach

The best approach is the one that works for you in your classroom. Many teachers have chosen to blend these approaches together. Others vary the approach depending on the learning need. Explore the ThinkQuest projects for some excellent examples of all three of the approaches discussed. You can find elements of each approach in many of the entries.

Compare Project, Problem, and Inquiry-based Learning

After exploring the sites above, create a chart comparing each approach. Select a topic and discuss how it might be approached differently using each technique.

Explore ThinkQuest projects and discuss which approach might work best for a particular project.

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