About project methodology in school

Project Methodology,  by Pedro Pereira Leite – MED. May 2019, presented at the workshop “project work, in portuguese in original


“What is the project methodology in teaching?

It is a process of oriented activities, carried out through projects that aim to: incorporate ideas or skills to be expressed or executed through actions of communication to the group; require that something new be tried; to select and order the ideas (the intellectual activity) in order to express a new degree of skill or knowledge.

These projects are conducted under the guidance of the teacher and the work is carried out by the students aiming at the acquisition of certain knowledge, skills and values

How does the project work?

They are projects developed by students in a (or more) discipline (s), in the school context, under the guidance of the teacher, and have the objective of learning concepts and developing specific skills and abilities.

The project work takes place in three fundamental phases. The formulation of a problem, the search for solutions, and its presentation behind a communicative action.

Each of the phases should be evaluated according to their relevance, and the communicative action should present the possible solutions to solve the problem.

How do you do Project Work in the Classroom?

The project work in the classroom starts from the formulation of any problem, created from the particularities of the elements of the group, preferably collective. Classroom work looks for possible solutions to problems.

The problem is a challenge that has to have to have an answer. However, in the classroom it is up to the teacher to define the challenges and their relevance to the educational process. It is also the teacher’s job to help students develop relevant and meaningful projects, avoiding failed outcomes and helping all students to stay motivated and to develop an adequate understanding of the contexts of the activities.

The goal of the project work is to expand the potential of each student. This is achieved through the project, which starts from the search for the solution of a problem, and which is carried out effectively in a given space and time in an educational context, allows to develop a consciousness accompanied by a communicative act on the real. (favors the merging of critical consciousness)

How are the project work experiences made?

The work with projects is a proposal of education focused on the formation of competences, which seeks the development of active learning through the participation of students, avoiding the “traditional” pedagogy (passive, verbal and theoretical).

Project work experiences consist of works developed by students in one (or more) subject (s), or school context, under the guidance of the teacher, in order to develop meaningful learning, acquire and work with ideas and concepts, and specific skills according to the educational level they attend.

The project work experiences activate the perception and the cognition:

  • The perception of self, of the other and the context,
  • Mobilize individual knowledge and active group sharing, encouraging motivation and awareness of the world;
  • Work on school content in its relationship with life and science.

What tasks are accomplished by the project work experience?

The methodology of the project work is developed in three planes. The definition of objectives (formulation of the problem), the development of action (resolutions for the problem) and the communicative process (extroversion and evaluation of results).

The definition of the objectives starts from the identification of a problem and the reasons for its resolution. From these objectives, a project is outlined, that is, ways to solve the problem are defined.

Normally, we try to segment in significant parts or units of resolution, and then distribute tasks, define resources to use and schedule their implementation.

After the research activities it is necessary to create an extroversion process.

Finally, the public presentation of the project, in the classroom, should present the solution of the problem, delimiting its relevance.

The project should be discussed and evaluated in terms of contributions achieved and possible defects that remained unresolved

How is project work generated?

Project work should be generated from choices about student experiences. The theme should be included in a generic way in the curricular objectives of the educational program, should start from an experience shared by the students, a matter of topicality. Exceptionally it may start from a problem proposed by the teacher, and there is a need to work on these questions. All themes can be approached with the project methodology.

The teacher should, after defining the problem theme, help raise the set of hypotheses. It should also be noted that a project is not only the acquisition of information but a means to gain new knowledge, to use and consolidate the knowledge acquired and to apply it in new contexts. The teacher or educated also has a relevant role in monitoring information gathering, drawing attention to essential concepts and working the motivation of the group to achieve their goals, being aware of difficulties and seeking to mediate overcoming them.

How to motivate the child’s design work?

It is necessary to start from the diagnostic exercise: to look at the needs of the child and the world of the child. Each child has a sense of self, of others, of their space and of their time. Children when they are born are centered on themselves and have no time. Confrontation with the world and with others is creating a process of growth, mediated by family and school. When they arrive at school it is necessary to know the starting point of each child to create a common learning process.

The methodology of the project work based on the needs / curiosities of the students seeks to create a challenge that, in order to be solved, requires the search and use of new contents.

The methodology of the project work activates participation through play activities, sound and rhythm games, image and language games.

The project work develops affectivity and aesthetics, requiring the educator to mediate learning, negotiate actions, adjust processes and balance the contribution of each in the group.

How does project work contribute to the overall educational process?

Nowadays, the demands of the formation and education of contemporary societies require an offer of a more global vision of the world in which one lives, the need to link learning to real situations and problems, and to seek that each one interact with the other cooperative way of solving problems.

To educate and train in today’s life requires the development of skills to gather information, treatment and communication, to develop capacity for argumentation, to be able to act and face new problems, to act in society in a constructive and cooperative way, to be able to present proposals constructive

In today’s world, very rapid changes occur with increasing use of technologies. New students are born into a technological world and master new technologies.

The project work methodology allows the contemporary world to enter the classroom and update the tools available to teachers to help their students develop cognitive and affective skills.

What is the methodology of work with project methodology?

Project work methodologies use active learning and project methodologies, generated from group dynamics and problem identification. They combine self-reflection and observation of the other in context in order to create a common action.

They develop in four stages.

  1. The revelation of the experience of life (from the experience lived as a relevant object), where through games of motivation are freely and creatively explored the sensitive world and the different materials and textures, which aims to identify relevance and create motivation ; “Account Play Game to Explore”
  2. The observation of the problem, which starts from the recognition of the identified relevances made through its registration (drawings, writing, photography, recordings, orality), which aims to fix an initial knowledge and create a first level of consciousness;
  3. The exploration of problems by observing their questions from different points of view and creating a second level of awareness about the characteristics of objects (their material structures) and about their (symbolic) meanings and about the different forms of use by the community (contexts of sociability);
  4. The appropriation of the solutions to the problems that aims to develop a communicative action, through an action of extraversion that allows the subject to develop their appropriation of the world and their awareness of this world.

Note: Like any learning process the times described are merely indicative, each time being able to develop autonomously or to merge.

How is the design methodology applied?

In the project work in schools is done from the following steps:

  1. Participatory diagnosis of motivations.
    1. It includes a search of students’ interest, knowledge and previous experiences in their relationship with the “curriculum”. You can choose an up-to-date theme, collected from a news of the day. There are no limits to project ideas, but it is convenient, that the project is in accordance with the curricular program lines.
    2. The selection of the problem theme can include group dynamics games, in order to try to understand the majority interests of the students. Once the problem-theme has been defined, it is necessary to create a basic road map of the research hypothesis. The teacher should guide the process on a collaborative and participatory basis. It should be borne in mind that projects should not only be information gathering, but should relate different sources in order to develop critical thinking.
  2. Analysis and development of questions-group problems.
    1. Each group of students, through its problem theme, and the definition of the basic script should develop the various hypotheses (unfolding the hypotheses of investigation) to include different points of view and different possibilities of problem solving, which must be tested and worked in groups, through the division of tasks.
    2. After the individual work, the group should make a survey of the information collected, discuss its main conclusions, check if there are new issues that need to be answered.
  • The educator should mediate the process of analysis, encouraging the emergence of critical looks on the issues and stimulating reflective thinking. The educator also has the function of stimulating the students’ autonomy in the search and selection of sources of information and of sharing information with the group. The development of the project should contribute to the development of strategies for the organization of knowledge and acquired knowledge.
  1. Communication and extraversion actions
  2. The presentation of the project results (issues / problems) should be shared with the extended class group through the presentation of the projects.
  3. The presentation should take into account that it is necessary to:
    1. Show the problem
    2. Present the treatment of information collected
  • Demonstrate the relationships between different content
  1. Finally, at the end of each presentation, an open discussion should be made to the group to clarify issues that have become less clear and a group assessment should be made,
    1. First, a self-assessment of
    2. Here is an overall assessment of the work done.
  • It is important for the educator to make a final balance of the work done, giving the group its feed-back

The educator should also keep in mind that he should be able to evaluate the processes of appropriation by the students of the different knowledge in their own knowledge.

What results are expected from the application of the project methodology?

The work with the design methodology stimulates the ability to decide, choose, speak and listen. They give students the joy to learn, to discover, the need to build and investigate, help and develop the essential skills for the integral formation of the human being. Project work: proposes an involvement of students and teachers with knowledge.

Working with projects allows students to develop skills and respond to complex challenges that stimulate students to seek new knowledge and consolidate acquired knowledge, and through group work, allows to create conditions to develop creativity. Work with projects carried out throughout the year should allow the integration of knowledge as a “network of meaningful questions” that instead of starting from an object-centered knowledge, you propose a multiplicity of looks on the world.

The project work, based on the problematization, starts from the student’s involvement in meaningful learning, trains the research process, collects and processes data, formulates hypotheses, stimulates the decision-making process, records data, formulate hypotheses, to make decisions.

From the solution of problem, it is sought that the student becomes protagonist of his own knowledge.