Project-based learning, or PBL, is a teaching method that actively engages students in learning by asking them to investigate an interesting and complex question, problem or challenge, and then to create something in response.
How does it work?
Students collaborate on meaningful projects that require critical thinking, creativity and communication. By making learning relevant in this way, students see a purpose for mastering state-required skills and content concepts.
Students aren’t just assessed on their understanding of academic content, but on their ability to successfully apply that content when solving authentic problems. This expands student learning by preparing them with work habits and character traits needed to succeed in life, college and careers.
Tech Valley High School partners with leaders from area businesses and higher education. They were involved in shaping the school, continue to be participants and collaborators in the educational program and are helping develop the project-based learning experiences, in cooperation with educators.
Why project-based learning?
Studies show adolescents learn best when they:
- Are faced with solving unforeseen problems and meeting unpredicted obstacles.
- Work collaboratively on team-based projects.
- Take responsibility for their own learning.
- See how what they are learning fits into their future.
How does project-based learning offer academic challenge?
Students are more likely to retain what that have learned as they have opportunities to work on complex problems beyond repetition and review. Project-based learning (PBL) offers students multiple opportunities to apply their learning in new situations where the answer is not obvious — where students are confronted with challenges that have no clear answers, where they must solve unforeseen problems and meet unpredicted obstacles. PBL requires teachers to cover fewer topics in greater depth with the goal of developing a deep understanding of subject matter that scientists, technology companies and business leaders in Tech Valley say is needed in our high school graduates. Learning at Tech Valley High School requires students to master the subject matter necessary for traditional Regents exams but also requires them to develop the skills to meet the rigorous requirements of working in a technology-rich, intellectually complex and personally challenging world.
Students learn through project-based learning, which co-mingles various learning disciplines, for example math and science, history and English, Mandarin Chinese and art. Through project-based learning, students not only learn what is required to pass state Regents exams, but also what is required to do well in the work force and higher education.
The real-world projects connect learning to each student’s course of study and require students learn to work together to complete project — just as they will someday in the work place or in college.
Although Tech Valley High School’s academic programs and the day-to-day activities of students differ in many ways from other schools, students at Tech Valley High School will earn a Regents Diploma or an Advanced Regents Diploma, and the curriculum meets all New York State learning standards.