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March 2016 | Volume 73 | Number 6
Learning for Life
When it comes to building the ideal graduate, project-based learning lays a strong foundation.
If you ask a group of teachers, administrators, and other educators to describe the characteristics of an ideal graduate from the K–12 system, you'll get a remarkably similar list no matter where you are. The same goes for a group of parents, businesspeople, community members, and other stakeholders in the system. We know because we've done this exercise in hundreds of PBL 101 workshops conducted by the Buck Institute for Education. Our partner schools and districts have done it in their communities, too, and the graduate's profile typically looks like this every time: a responsible, resourceful, persistent critical thinker who knows how to learn, works well with others, is a problem solver, communicates well, and manages time and work effectively.
Similar traits are mentioned in discussions about what's needed for success in college. One major study (Conley, 2005) found that, in addition to subject-area knowledge and the habits of mind listed above, the ideal graduate is also "open to possible failure at times," "can weigh sources for importance and credibility," and is "open to and utilizes critical feedback."
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