The Project Work in Context of Teaching

Dr. V.K.Maheshwari, M.A (Socio, Phil) B.Sc. M. Ed, Ph.D.

Former Principal, K.L.D.A.V. (P.G) College, Roorkee, India

A project is a good way to provide extra, stimulating work for the science-centered child who can stay well ahead of the class in his formal science study and is ready for new opportunities. The project must be so safe that the child working by himself is in no danger. It must be on a level at which success is probable. Even the most ambitious and hard-working child can undertake too much, with the strong probability that frustration will soon end the project.

Project work is a wonderful tool to make pupils imbibe the concepts. The student will choose a topic for the project under the guidance of a teacher. The topic so chosen gives scope for fieldwork, to study in the library and to collect and interpret the data. Thoroughness, diligence, discipline, analytical and presentation skills – all these will be put to test in the process. And such a grind makes the student an expert and spurs him to probe further.

A curriculum that is broad based, that encourages original work and independent thinking and that which puts a premium on going beyond the curriculum to explore the vast ocean of knowledge would enable the children to excel in whatever they do. And that is the purpose of education

For the children it is an avenue of exhibiting their creative skills. It also provides variety to the mundane school homework and daily routine. Project Work as an instructional approach offers an opportunity to create innovative learning environments. It affords students with working in teams, engaging in meaningful activities such as problem-solving, analyzing, evaluating, collaborating, reporting and presenting over a significant period of time, in order to create a product, realistic and relevant to the learners. Project Work creates a logical link to content based instruction, now a major goal of education. Teachers’ conceptions of teaching and learning are the key factors for the effective project work.

Project Work- Salient Features

The salient features of Project work are as follows:

1. No limits are set to the eventual scope of the subject being studied.

2. There is always an element of research in a project. This research usually arises from a desire to inquire more deeply into facts which have been observed or acquired previously.

3. Many or all the conventional subjects may be put to use in order that the subject matter can be adequately studied.

4. The teaching time required to complete projects, is usually measured in weeks.

Characteristic 0f projects:

  • A project is a real life activity, a project is an activity in a natural setting, a project is an activity in a social setting, a project is a cooperative activity,
  • A project is a whole hearted activity, a project is an activity which results in concrete and positive success a project is a purposeful activity,,
  • A project is a problem centered activity, a project is an activity which provides an integrated view of a subject, a project is an activity through which a solution of a problem is found out by the pupils themselves,
  • A project is a new way of teaching the child to live, a project seeks to encourage individuals to understand life in its unity, a project provides a lot of freedom to the child.

A good project has the following qualities:

1. A project has its proper aims and objectives,

2. A project is useful and applicable and related to the lives of the students outside the school,

3. It incorporates the vocational interest of the students,

4. It is to be completed in time,

5. The learning experiences in a project are applicable,

6. The knowledge gained from the project encourages further knowledge,

7. The students remain cooperative in a group project,

8. Before starting the project work, environmental and seasonal factors are keptin mind,

9. The project is designed in such a way that the students keep themselves active both physically and mentally and

10. The work of a project is not imposed on the students. They are free to work according to their own interest, ability and attitudes.

Project Work-Significance in Teaching Learning Process

The project method and the project work are presented as a distinguishing feature of the activity and core pattern of curriculum. This view arose as a reaction against the traditional methods of teaching, which creates monotony, laziness and kills not only the interest but also ignores the natural instinct of the students in general. The project work helps to achieve the various outcomes of science teaching and thus the teaching-learning takes place in broad framework of network. It involves-

1. Non-verbal learning in Science: Many a learning science is kinesthetic, i.e., they come to the students through the muscles.

2. Value of tangible experience in Science: Many aspects of learning tend to be abstract. In Sciences, the students often have an opportunity to see something happen, unfold and develop. They can explore with the materials and exert a measure of control over their experiences.

3. Development of critical judgment: It entails evaluation. This is an essential factor in a student’s developing maturity.

4. Value of working with others: The students have an opportunity to share their ideas and to broaden their perspective when they work with others. Project work stimulates the interest in science and helps in developing personality traits like persistence, self-confidence, cooperation, leadership, emotional stability and problem-solving ability. It is a compound method, which can lead to effective teaching and learning.

The importance of project work is manifold in the context of teaching learning, especially at higher secondary level. It helps in:

  • Achieving motivation to learn, increasing fun in learning.
  • Arousing interest and stimulating curiosity, developing functional understanding.
  • Increasing learning, reading readiness, developing heuristic attitude .
  • Introducing the students to the ‘world of work’, increasing skill proficiency, increasing creativity.
  • Logical development, assessing learning outcome, enhancing research mentality.
  • Promoting independent thinking, increasing decision making based on experience.
  • Training in ‘scientific method’, developing scientific aptitude and scientific attitude.

The values and purposes of encouraging project work in learning are to:

  • As has been demonstrated time and again, the students choose their own projects, integrate knowledge as the need arises and thus motivation and learning follow naturally.
  • Develop individual skills in cooperation and social interaction. Develop student skills in writing, communication, and higher-level thinking and doing.
  • Foster student engagement, independent learning, and thinking skills. Optimize personal meaning of the learning to each student by considering, valuing, and accommodating individual interests, learning styles, learning capacities, and life experiences.
  • Provide opportunity `for students to become intrinsically motivated to learn because they are working on topics of personal meaning, with outcomes and even time lines that are relatively open ended.
  • Provide opportunity for each student to become especially knowledgeable and experienced in one area of subject content or in one process skill, thus adding to the student’s knowledge and experience base and sense of importance and self-worth.
  • Provide opportunity for students to make decisions about their own learning and to develop their skills in managing time and materials. Provide opportunity for students to make some sort of a real contribution.

Project Work-Steps

How to select the projects is a crucial step. Preferably those projects ought to be attempted, in which there is a reasonable chance of success. And they ought to be of the type which can be completed within the stipulated time. An attempt should be made to find projects that include everyone throughout the work.

Before taking up any activity in the school, the authorities must make sure whether the project is within the comprehension of the group concerned and a practical one? Will it be interesting to students and encourage initiative and originality? Will it enlarge students’ horizon and develop responsibility? Will it help to develop cooperation with schoolmates and teachers?

In collaboration with the teacher, students select a topic for the project.  The students are allowed to choose whether they will work alone, in pairs, or in small groups. If they choose to work in groups, job descriptions for each member of the group should be delineated. For project work, groups of four or less students are usually preferred to groups of more than four. Even if the project is one the whole class is pursuing, the project may be broken down into parts with individuals of small groups of students undertaking independent study of these parts.

The students are promoted to sharing. The students are insisted that they share both the progress and the results of their study with the rest of the class. The amount of time allowed for this sharing will depend upon many variables. Careful planning and steady guidance are essential for teaching through project work for both students and the teacher. The students with the guidance from the teacher decide what project to do and how to do it.

The steps in the implementation of a project work

The various steps in the implementation of a project work in any school organization are:

Providing a situation (by the teacher),- Problems are ought to be according to the interest of the students.

Selection and objectives (i.e., selecting with appropriate objectives, where the teacher works as a guide to help the student/s for selection),-  The teacher provides a situation in which some problems are focused. These selection of a project with appropriate and clear objectives is very important. It is the centre round which a project moves. Therefore, the teacher helps the student in selecting the project in order to achieve the aims and objectives. The project should be a definite need to the students. In case of a wrong selection, the teacher helps the students to select another project clarifying the reasons for the change.

Planning (by the student/s),- Planning is a scheme for accomplishing a purpose or a scheme drawn up beforehand or a scheme of arrangement. It is also a very important step. Good planning leads to better results. With the cooperation of the teacher the students draw out a blue-print of the given project. The teacher encourages his students to give their suggestions. The resources which are available with the students should be considered. Through discussion different alternatives should be suggested to make a good plan. The suggestions of all the students should be critically examined and properly utilized.

Executing the plan (by the student/s),- Execution is the longest step and requires more time. The whole project is completed through the cooperative efforts of all the students. According to the interest and ability of the students, the activities of the whole project are equally divided among the students. The teacher provides proper guidance to the students in the process of execution of the project work, so that desired objectives could be achieved. The students keep themselves busy in collecting, organizing, tabulating, interpreting and analyzing the data.

Recording (by the student/s) – At the recording stage, all activities concerned with the project work are maintained. The students note down all the details of the different steps. Planning of the whole project is recorded for future reference and guidance.

Evaluating (by the students and by the teacher)- The students and the teacher make evaluation of the whole work when it is completed during all the steps. The students review their work. They learn a number of lessons from the committed mistakes in the various steps of a project. The students make self-criticism on their own work. It is a valuable form of training. The students  see whether the desired objectives have been achieved or not. The success of a project depends on the achievement of desired aims and objectives made by the students before executing the project work. It is submitted to the teacher for the final evaluation.

Project Work – Types

The project may be as simple as an investigation into a class problem, with a short, oral report, either to the class or to the teacher. It may be the construction of a model that will help explain or illustrate a class activity. Whatever the project is, the initiative is of the child’s. The value of the project increases as the student delves more deeply in his research. The teacher acts as guide and merely refers the student to the appropriate school and community resources.

A project may be either an individual or class planned undertaking designed to compile information, collect objects, construct materials, or create something. As group enterprise, a project might consist of such real-life experiences as purchasing and preparing food for a class luncheon or creating a class newspaper. As an individual learning opportunity, projects might involve painting a mural, writing a story, making clothing or collecting and mounting different plant or animal specimens.

Knowledge is applied instrumentally to assist in the completion of the following main types of projects:

A. Practical tasks such as the construction of a useful article—“to embody some idea or plan in external form;”

B. Appreciation of an aesthetic experience-“to enjoy some experience,”

C. Problem Solving-“to solve some problem” and

D. Mastery of a skill or knowledge—to obtain some action or degree of skill or knowledge.

Kilpatrick. William, H., (1871-1965) mentions four types of projects:

(i) The Producer type,

(ii) The Consumer type,

(iii) The Problem type, and

(iv) The Drill type.

In addition to this there are five main types of science projects. It’s easier to choose a project idea once it is determined what sort of a project is interesting.

1- The experiment or investigation is the most common type of project, where the scientific method is used to propose and test a hypothesis. After acceptance or rejection of the hypothesis, conclusions are drawn about what had been observed.

2-The demonstration usually involves re-testing an experiment that already has been done by someone else. Ideas can be obtained for this type of project from books and on the internet.

3-In the research project, information is collected about a topic and the findings are presented. For example, a research project can be an excellent project if the data is used to answer a question.

4-The model type of project involves building a model to illustrate a concept or principle. It can be an incredible high school or college project by building a model of a new design or a prototype for an invention. In its best form, a project with a model illustrates a new concept.

5-The collection project often displays a collection to illustrate the understanding of a concept or topic

Project Work–Advantages

The following laws of learning lead the merits of the Project Work:

A. Laws of Readiness: The students get ready to learn through motivation. The project method provides the situation to make the students ready to work.

B. Law of Exercise: The students learn through practice to make learning more effective and permanent. The project method provides opportunities of ‘learning by doing’ to the students.

C. The Law of Effect: According to this law if learning is effective and permanent, it leads to satisfaction and happiness. The students get pleasure when they manipulate their own activities.

On the basis of these laws of learning stated above, the merits of the project work are:

  • Meaningful and purposeful activities provide practical and permanent learning which is quiet related with the daily life of the student. The students get opportunities to be aware of themselves with the real life problems,
  • It promotes the habits of thinking for community welfare among the students, It develops the power of tolerance among students. It develops a sense of cooperation,
  • It transforms the students to become the resource person as they collect different information regarding their project work,
  • It inculcates democratic learning because the students select, plan and execute a project themselves. It promotes the students to understand the dignity of labor and respect for all types of work,
  • It initiates the habits of constructive and creative thinking.  It enhances the power of interaction among the students.  It helps students to solve other related problems based on the same project,
  • It provides freedom to the students as they work with their self-chosen projects. It solves the problem of indiscipline as they are all busy,
  • The students get joy and take pride in their finished product.  It is a playful and natural way of learning. It encourages the students become self-dependent to complete their work,
  • An added advantage of the project work, besides learning, is that these various activities afford enjoyment, relaxation, satisfaction and recreation to the student community. These activities bring in activeness in the entire school environment.

Project Work-As a Means of Individualized Instruction

An element of flexibility should be provided in the instructional programs of Science for the school children. Project work is an ideal way to build the necessary flexibility. Such work challenges the individual or a small group to think independently and to make decisions.

If the project is undertaken by a small group, individuals learn to cooperate and to work together. This in itself is no mean feat. The teachers must work with small groups in such a way that certain individuals do not continuously dominate the work of the group as a whole.

A science project is an investigation. It involves good research techniques at the child’s level of maturity and development. In fact, the child may not be discovering something new for humanity, but, to the child to whom the items of information are unknown, there may be a pressing need for discovery and enlightenment. The element of personal discovery which is always involved in such instances is as unique, creative, as it would be if the phenomenon were happening for the first time in the history of human race.

It is through “research projects,” that an opportunity is given for the individual to pull ideas together, to make associations among ideas, and to bring to bear all the resources at his disposal in the acquisition of knowledge. Such work provides an excellent opportunity for the individual to be involved in situations that require maximum thinking.

Project work undertaken by individuals or small groups encourages children to be creative and to answer their own questions. One project often leads to another.

Project Work –The Role of a Teacher

Although the teacher may not appear to occupy the center of attention in some aspects of the problem method, yet the teacher is an important cog in the machinery of project work. The tendency is to individualism in problem solution. Whatever the direct approach, the degree to which the teacher himself is a master of problem solving will bear a somewhat direct relation to the effectiveness of his direction of others in this process. Therefore, the role of a teacher in teaching involving project work is given as under–

  • Asking the students to identify and select the problem/topic, Discussing the basic idea of the project,
  • Providing students with a simple chart showing types of data and possible ways of analyzing them,
  • Asking the students to collect and record the data. Keeping a mental record of the progress of the student/s,
  • Acting as a mentor, monitor, adviser, assist, facilitator, Providing extra help for struggling groups and encourage between group’s interaction, dialogue and sharing of ideas,
  • Discussing the protocol of presentation and criteria that will be used for evaluating project reports,
  • Providing the students with a template/format for report writing and discuss rules of scientific writing.

In nutshell it can be said that a  teacher who has the ability to see problems clearly, the power to analyze with a keen discernment, and the facility to synthesize and draw conclusions with an uncanny accuracy, will be a rare help to the students in their mastery of the difficult technique of problem attack. Guidance in problem solving is in reality training in “how to study,” and, it might be added, in “how to think.”




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