Student engagement and project-based learning

Posted on Jun 16, 2013 by Adobe Education Latest activity: Aug 27, 2014

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Have you noticed the difference between students’ engagement using inquiry- or project-based learning? Share stories and examples of the difference it has made in your classroom.

This discussion post is part of the Adobe Education Exchange Professional Development workshop, Creativity in Today’s Classrooms: Designing Creativity in the Upper Grades Curriculum.

Comments (16)

uma ravi

Posted on Aug 27, 2014 5:43 AM - Permalink

With my experience between regular syllbus based teaching in chemistry and as an educator in the AYV projects i feel that in the AVY projects students are not confined to the syllabus and they use their creativity to explore various methods from story boarding to the execution of the final project with enthusiasm and focus.where as with the strictly syllabus oriented part they are not willing to work with enthusiasm .therefore students should be given work which is project based to make them more responsible and focussed.

Melinda Cowen

Posted on Aug 27, 2014 2:50 AM - Permalink

When given a positive working environment, my students are extra creative. Often I have found that the best way to get students working in a program before they know they are doing it is to begin with a demo, where as I explain the interface of let's say Photoshop, I have them participating in a mini project. They are learning as they go, and since it is hands-on, they don't get a chance to get bored. They are too busy doing. As they work through each tool, they begin to question what other tools may do, so we take a new path and explore these new tools as they discover them. Giving them control of what they learn in what order during the mini project allows them more control over their own learning and the freedom to explore while learning.

Barbara Swanner

Posted on Aug 26, 2014 4:25 AM - Permalink

All my classes are taught project based, for some students initially this is really hard, they are so use to being given step by step instructions that I can tell that they are nervous. I spend time with these students going reassuring them that mistakes are okay, and they can ask as many questions as they want. Usually a few weeks in all my students feel really comfortable, and some of the most tentative eventually become the most inquisitive and creative thinkers in the class. Students must like the way the classes are structured, based upon the number that ask what else do I teach and is there another class after the one they are in. I think I offer one of the few classes in the student's day that really lets them investigate ideas, draw their own conclusions and they love it. I always tell them I am teaching process, and the product they make with it completely up to them, we don't do carbon copy activities.

Ernest Whiteman

Posted on Jul 25, 2014 2:00 AM - Permalink

I have noticed that lead educators need to be the ones that include the non-active students into a project. Whether they are quiet, unruly, or shy, giving something specific to do or be a part of the overall task of completion typically engages them. Ihave found that project-based has worked for the most part. For example, while many of the student in my charge want to run the camera or write the words and speeches or want to be on camera, the typically shy or quiet students will feel left out of the project and would not participate, however, when I gave a group of them a specific non-extroverted task, we called it the "Legal Team" whose task it was, was to make sure every student on camera or being interviewed from other classes, had their parents sign the image release forms. We also tasked them to write letters to other classroom teachers and even the principal to request permission to interview student and to plan a scene in the cafeteria. When they found success in both areas, they were proud of their work and they began to engage more in the creative end of it. They started to express opinions more and became more open and vocal about the creative end of the video we were producing. Another example is a pair of shy students suddenly requested to paint backdrops and signs as a part of their contribution to the video. Seizing on that, they too began to vocalize their ideas more, one even asked to take part in camera operations.

Stephanie Davidson

Posted on Jul 17, 2014 7:22 PM - Permalink

I have noticed that students that are naturally creative, seem to want to jump right in and get after it. They love the project-based learning and usually the only inquiry they have is "When is this due?". However, there are students that have not had many chances to engage in creativity and they want to know exactly what to do and how they should do it. They are not confident at all. I have found that most of these types of students are the higher end of the gpa but that doesn't mean they are the smartest. It goes to show they are book smart and can pass a test. Without a book or step by step instuctions... it's a no go.

Stephanie Davidson

Posted on Jul 17, 2014 7:21 PM - Permalink

I have noticed that students that are naturally creative, seem to want to jump right in and get after it. They love the project-based learning and usually the only inquiry they have is "When is this due?". However, there are students that have not had many chances to engage in creativity and they want to know exactly what to do and how they should do it. They are not confident at all. I have found that most of these types of students are the higher end of the gpa but that doesn't mean they are the smartest. It goes to show they are book smart and can pass a test. Without a book or step by step instructions... it's a no go.

Stephanie Davidson

Posted on Jul 17, 2014 7:21 PM - Permalink

I have noticed that students that are naturally creative, seem to want to jump right in and get after it. They love the project-based learning and usually the only inquiry they have is "When is this due?". However, there are students that have not had many chances to engage in creativity and they want to know exactly what to do and how they should do it. They are not confident at all. I have found that most of these types of students are the higher end of the gpa but that doesn't mean they are the smartest. It goes to show they are book smart and can pass a test. Without a book or step by step instructions... it's a no go.

Jody Chapel

Posted on Jul 15, 2014 9:35 PM - Permalink

I teach digital media at the high school level. I start with a broad concept, one that spans an entire grading period of about 6 weeks. In that time period the students do research, experimentation (skill building and idea generation) and variations. Along the way I give mini-demos (software or concept driven) that I feel are relevant to their work but they can choose to use the information or refer to it when they are ready to learn and apply that concept or skill. Most of my classroom time is spent helping individual students along a path they have chosen. I have found this balance between scaffolding and student-directed learning to work really well and that the students will tip the balance based on their individual needs. Finding this balance has been my biggest challenge and how I achieve it is constantly evolving.

Henry Sandoval

Posted on Jul 15, 2014 6:06 PM - Permalink

Designing Creativity in the upper grades was an excellent discussion. I was using a range of the styles but I was lacking a better understanding of application to my students and this workshop will be a great help.

deston tanner

Posted on Jul 13, 2014 10:39 PM - Permalink

As an online student, team based projects are the only way to produce collaboration in asynchronous MOOCS.

tina ellingwood

Posted on Jul 1, 2014 5:32 PM - Permalink

One of the hardest parts of combining projects and creativity is also having the students address teamwork. High school students want to take the same roles, it is refreshing to introduce them to what happens in industry when creatively collaborating and then producing a final product. I observe the steps as they learn the technical skills marry them with new ideas and then collaborate. I have student ages 14-19 at all different learning levels. I assess their starting level, monitor growth in areas such as; quality, skill, creativity, mastery of programs, collaboration, following direction, attention to detail, deadlines and final product.

Joel Almoradie

Posted on Jun 20, 2014 3:35 AM - Permalink

For years, I have been mixing it up. One small is example is in teaching Flash/ActionScript. If I find that the concept can be easily digested (say, animated buttons), I give them a summary of how to implement animated buttons, and show them examples on the Web. After that, we proceed to making/implementing examples (and of course, discuss as they follow my lead). Meanwhile, usually when it comes to scripting, I set goals - outlining the things that, for instance, should happen when the buttons are clicked. As we are scripting the animation together, I explain the concepts along the way.

I just feel that if learning is always project-based, the students may tend to just master the projects/examples to the point that they won't be able to function if they are presented with projects that deviate from the examples given to them. If it is too inquiry-based, it can be harmful, too. Striking a balance I think is key. The college students I have learn differently from each other. This is why I present a material, often times, using a combination of the two approaches.

Jeremiah Baumann

Posted on May 29, 2014 6:41 PM - Permalink

Currently I have one of my students working through the basics of training with Photoshop. It is pretty dry, procedural learning. However, by mixing in creative challenges, he is able to utilize the skills he is learning and continue to build on his assignments. This strategy is definitely working. The best part is that he is coming up with creative ideas that he wants to do and then asking how I can steer him to those skill sets. Definitely seems to be working. Can't wait to try this out with more beginner designers.

Wyn Pottinger

Posted on Oct 17, 2013 5:31 AM - Permalink

I love assignments that give license to be creative. Oftentimes, I will present the concept, but not distribute anything typed, like a rubric, until the project has been started. This seems to allow for more creative interpretation by students.

For example, when teaching a unit on typography in my graphic design class, students blind-select a typeface from a "deck" of fonts available on their computers. The task (over a couple of class periods, using Illustrator) is to design a poster, informing the viewer of the specific characteristics of their typeface in a simple, bold manner. They must choose four letter forms and four relative vocabulary words -- at which point I give them a resource/diagram of typographic terms, exposure to websites, etc. The assignment allows for creative choices (their interpretation of the most idiosyncratic/identifiable characters), the use of elements and principles for the composition of the poster (at the designer's discretion), and the labeling or highlighting of the relative vocabulary in clever, unique ways. Each student presents their work, speaking to a few details about the font's origination and any contemporary use. Each poster is memorable and individual. They become the art on the classroom walls: a gallery of portraits -- typeFACES!

Colleen Velasquez

Posted on Aug 17, 2013 10:47 PM - Permalink

The activity I thought about was where students design a brochure for their own school. We study the Enlightenment and how education was considered key by the philosophes for society to progress. But we also look at the varying opinions about what that education can be, according to the philosophes and actually back to the Greeks. Then we bring it into modern times and see that the argument still exists. The students then think about several topics: the mission and vision of the school, the quality and education of the teaching staff, what the schedule would look like. I am always pleased with the brochures they create and they truly reflect each student’s interests. Several have been really original for example we had a school of transcendental meditation. The student even planned down to meals and free time activities. Very cool.


Phyllis Kaupp Seas

Posted on Aug 10, 2013 9:37 PM - Permalink

I was teaching an adult class on creation of slideshows using vacation images from any trip they chose. In class, we demonstrated some interesting slide techniques that could be developed with the use of the software and also how cleverly place transitions between slides could also effectively add to the overall showtime results. Their assignment was to produce a three minute slidehow for classroom viewing. It was so exciting to see how some had taken a few of the ideas from the classroom and expanded on them with the placement of the image for maximum visual interest, some had gone a step by utilizing the voice overs in some areas (on their own they discovered this), and finalized their shows by "rolling credits", again a most creative and interpretative gesture on some of the participants. One of the highlights of that class was one students (whom I've had in other adult classes) that was so excited to show her small "speilberg film", because "she had done it all by herself without anyone's help", which as you may have already guessed by now, was quite the feat for this individual. Class members applauded her efforts.