One of the greatest challenges for an instructor in a PBL unit is to adapt to the role of facilitator. As a facilitator, my role in the teaching/learning process will change and I will need to let go of the traditional notions for a classroom and learning. No longer will I spend most of my day in the front of the classroom teaching. My role as a facilitator is essential for the effectiveness of the learning experience for my students. As a facilitator I will develop a project for the class, oversee and assist students throughout the project, help students become more independent as learners, and assess and evaluate the success of the project as well as the students’ performance.
An effective facilitator defines desired outcomes for the project. The outcomes are discussed with the students early in the project and are a point of reference throughout. A facilitator provides the focus of the project and the path towards the desired outcome. An effective facilitator recognizes the group dynamics and behavioral styles. They also ensure that everyone is heard and included. An effective facilitator is confident. He or she is always prepared and commands the attention of the room. An effective facilitator asks good questions that can move a group forward, facilitate conversations and provide results. He or she helps a group think outside the box and determine a course of action. An effective facilitator knows how to handle a group and works with them to resolve conflict and be able to work together (Rickenbach, 2014).
With project based learning, students will develop the competencies and skills needed to be successful including the necessary 21st century skills of critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and creativity. Students will still learn the academic content they need through PBL and they will probably remember it better. Project based learning helps students learn time management and become more organized. Students will learn how to work together much like they will need to do as they enter the workforce. By taking part in public presentations, students will develop their communication skills and their project results may actually make a difference in the community. Project based learning is more engaging for students and allows students to take responsibility for their learning.
In order to become an effective facilitator, I will need to make a few changes to my teaching style and they way I run my classroom. One area that I will need to improve on is observation. I will need to do a better job of examining student interactions and group them appropriately so that they will be most successful in their learning. I will also need to develop a better way to facilitate groups when they have conflict. Finally, I will need to become more adept at helping students think out of the box and look at tasks with different perspectives.