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In project-based learning, it's the learning that counts, not the outcome

Solent University is about to launch a new Real World Curriculum Framework, as part of its commitment to giving students the opportunity to see how their knowledge can be applied in the workplace.

The level 6 students studying media production are already finding out, thanks to the unit Producing for Social Media, which gives them the chance to work on projects for real clients with a business need.

Solent Mind tasked the students with creating a series of marketing materials as part of a communications campaign to go out online, giving them several case studies of mental health issues that they were to adapt into short dramas.

Although this project has been completed successfully and the materials are being used online currently, Course Leader Roy Hanney believes much of the benefit of project-based learning is that it can go wrong.

While projects generally have a specific outcome – that’s why you undertake them in the first place – in project-based learning, the outcome is possibly the least important part.

In amongst all the messiness and uncertainty that come along with a complex task, the students inevitably learn much more than how to produce a particular artefact. Having to solve unforeseen issues helps the students to build a portfolio of experience as well as material, giving them ownership over the task and, Roy believes, increasing their motivation as a result.

When the milestones for achievement switch from considerations of time, cost and quality to learning, participation and engagement, it is clear that project-based learning delivers more than a mere brief.