To Learn instead of Listen

Project Organized and Problem Based Learning (POPBL) is a “teaching” style which activates pupils to learn instead of listen. The concept of the problem based learning (PBL) component is to integrate the „real life“ learning process of human beings into the teaching process. The project organized component (PO) adds elements of everyday working methods used particularly in the profession of technology, thus emphasizing the real life component of PBL.

The World Observed and Experienced by Pupils

The basic ideas of POPBL can be deduced from a phenomenological approach in science teaching, which concentrates on the world observed and experienced by pupils. Starting from Fechner and Mach (“Psychophysik”, sensationalism) and their scientific successors, a project oriented teaching integrates the view of the surrounding world - as it is constructed by the pupils in their pre-science experience - with new scientific experiences introduced by problem based learning at school.

Enable trust in Personal Competencies

Often scientific language barriers and other scientific obstacles hinder children and students in making any efforts to attain such knowledge. “Scientific culture” is not attractive because it seems so different from what a child feels to have observed and to have competencies in. Successful school science learning however enables trust in personal competencies and leads to a (re-)construction of pre-science experiences as a key element of scientific enculturation. Thus pupils (and students) become able to understand science and will become interested in it.

POPBL was chosen as a method of enabling individual and competence-oriented learning since this teaching form allows teachers and pupils to have individual access to the teaching and learning process, thus taking into consideration that the requirements of pupils of different achievement levels and different levels of interest in science will be met. This eases the access of pupils to science subjects and takes care of potential gender differences.

Learning with a Real Problem

One constituting element of POPBL teaching (see figure) is the starting problem that interests pupils and depends obviously on the country, age group and school type. This problem causes pupils to ask (inquire) after appropriate science knowledge and integrates their everyday experience into science lessons.

After being presented with the starting problem (for all steps see the table below), a class is divided into smaller groups who investigate certain aspects within this problem, which is to be solved by individual pupils within the project group.

In the next step within the POPBL process, the pupils work on their problem by asking and inquiring from teachers, internet, books, parents, experts and other information sources to reach a solution.

table: steps of the POPBL learning process