My field is practitioner focused; I am working with learners who are translating library science theory into practice that will happen in schools or libraries. I have found instructional strategies that are grounded in scenarios and solving problems encourage the development of skills and knowledge that will transfer to the real world. For example, I will provide students with a set of parameters (audience, library type, budget, community needs) under which the learners make selections for a library collection. Or the students will be presented with a human resources scenario such as a memo exercise and will have to decide how they will prioritize a number of managerial tasks.
While I have built project-based strategies into some of my courses about developing lesson plans and programs, this is an instructional strategy I would like to figure out how to use more often. My undergraduate students often struggle initially with these more constructivist approaches. They seem to expect more direct instruction and either do not trust themselves to find a unique solution to a problem or project prompt, or they do not trust me to actually be willing to give them that much freedom. They ask for examples and seem convinced that I already have a specific work product in mind. Once they realize I really am interested in their ideas, rather than expecting them to guess mine, they really enjoy the approach and talk about how “fun” and, interestingly, “easy” it is to work that way. I would like to use this more because I do see more intrinsic motivation from my students when they have choice in terms of the focus of their projects. They also seem to take more ownership of the projects because they are investing more of themselves into the process and the outcome. If the project can also be given parameters that encourage authentic explorations of contexts that my students will be practicing in during their professional careers.
I can see using scenario-type strategies in my intervention, in addition to direct instruction, I think using a project-based strategy might be more challenging considering the format and audience. I want to think about it though, because I might just need to look for examples beyond the k-12 context, which is where I usually see them. Given the increase in makerspaces within libraries, many lessons are now maker-based. While there are similarities between project-based and problem-based learn, I do need to spend some time learning about maker-based instruction so that I can look into ways I might also use these strategies to prepare my students for the maker-based contexts in which they will be teaching.