Project-Based Learning as an Innovative COVID-19 Response
The impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on learning has been acutely felt in underserved and low-income contexts, remote and rural settings, and education in emergencies settings, where most students lag behind age-appropriate milestones in learning and achievement (World Bank 2019). Digital remote learning methods were pervasive in the global education response to the pandemic, which left marginalized learners, most of whom were not digitally connected, at a disadvantage and exposed them to greater learning loss and higher dropout rates than their peers with digital access (Dorn et al. 2020). In this field note, we recommend project-based learning, a unique pedagogical approach that promotes relevant, holistic, student-centered learning and 21st-century academic skills. The innovation has had promising preliminary results among the digitally marginalized during COVID-19-related school closures. Some students participating in the proof-of-concept pilots experienced up to 28 percent growth in academic and nonacademic skills and reported satisfaction with the project-based learning resources of up to 98 percent, as well as a positive shift in their mindset toward learning. The initial success of the early-stage pilots in diverse geographic and education contexts indicates that the model has the potential to scale.
The authors discuss their work in the Behind the Pages podcast episode embedded below: