Implementing Project-Based Learning And E-Portfolio Assessment In an Undergraduate Course

Yasemin Gülbahar, Hasan Tinmaz
2006 Journal of Research on Technology in Education  
In this case study, the aim was to implement project-based learning by utilizing e-portfolio assessment in a small-scale classroom (N = 8). The compulsory Design, Development, and Evaluation of Educational Software course in the curriculum of the Department of Computer Education and Instructional Technology was selected due to its strong relationship with real life while lending itself to addressing the major concern of project-based learning. Despite insufficient classroom size and students'
more » ... ize and students' challenges on animation software, it was found that project-based learning was an appropriate choice for conducting such a course. Moreover, e-portfolio assessment proved to be valuable in project-based learning. In the rest of the paper, findings from other research studies evaluating project-based learning are discussed and recommendations are presented. (Keywords: project based learning, e-portfolio assessment, educational software development.) 310 Project-based learning can be defined briefly as "a model that organizes learning around projects" (Thomas, 2000, p. 1). Even though assigning projects to students in traditional classrooms is not a new phenomenon, project-based learning is quite different from the usual application. Thomas listed five major criteria for a method of learning to be called project-based learning: • project-based learning projects are central, not peripheral to the curriculum, • project-based learning projects are focused on questions or problems that "drive" students to encounter the central concepts and principles of a discipline, • projects involve students in a constructive investigation, • projects are student-driven to some significant degree, and • projects are realistic, not school-like. (p. 4) The project-based learning movement has spread quickly and has had many practitioners adopt it. However, Barron et al. (1998) urged that following a projectbased learning approach for instruction rather necessitates an immediate change in not only the curriculum, but also in the instruction and assessment parts for instructors and students. The new role of the instructor in a project-based learning implementation is defined by Frank, Lavy, and Elata (2003) as when "... lecturing to passive students is replaced by encouraging motivation, tutoring, providing resources, and helping learners to construct their own knowledge" (p. 280). Thomas (2000) defined the issues about the positive side effects of projectbased learning for students as the development of positive attitudes toward their learning process, work routines, abilities on problem-solving, and self-esteem. Similarly, Green (1998) emphasized that participants in project-based learning learn better and are more actively acting in their learning. On the other hand, the instructors work backstage as students work on their projects. This turns participants into active problem solvers on the projects, rather than passive receivers of knowledge. Preuss (2002) noted that as students complete their projects, they think reflectively on their experiences about project-based learning processes individually. Besides, students realize similarities between what they are learning and what is going on outside the school walls. Even though students get disturbed in the early stages of the implementation of project-based learning into their courses, most students feel more motivated as time elapses in a project-based learning course. Because project-based learning provides students with opportunities to implement their freedom in their learning environment, they give up their habit of waiting for step-by-step instructor-based commands (Lenschow, 1998) . Lenschow (1998) suggested applying a trial-and-error approach before moving to a large-scale project-based learning project. A small scale project-based learning trial including five to fifteen participants would be a satisfactory attempt to see its effect on students and related issues with its implementation. This small-scale attempt will help instructors realize the challenges of projectbased learning. For example, Frank and Barzilai (2004) provided a long list of possible challenges of using project-based learning:
doi:10.1080/15391523.2006.10782462 fatcat:4c664kzelfcc3pdugqc6fzlnse