AIOU Solved Assignment 1&2 Code 624 Autumn & Spring 2023

AIOU Solved Assignments code 624  M.A. Autumn & Spring 2023 Assignment 1& 2  Course: Teaching Strategies at Elementary  (624)   Spring 2023. AIOU past papers

Teaching Strategies at Elementary  (624)  Semester
Autumn & Spring 2023

AIOU Solved Assignment 1& 2 Code 624 Autumn & Spring 2023

Q.1   What are the variables involving in the teaching-learning process?


The learning task is what the teaching-learning process is intended to accomplish. It can best be assessed by the Instructional Objective. For example, when transacting content about environmental pollution, the instructional objectives can be that at the end of the lesson, the learner will define environmental pollution, state the types of environmental pollution, describe the various types of environmental pollution, state the causes of environmental pollution, ….., develop pro-environmetal behaviour. Thus, the learning task is always a variable in the teaching-learning process, depending on the developmental stage of the learner, the higher amins of education, the content chosen and so on. Also, there is a wide range of behaviour that the learner will manifest depending on the learning task or instructional objectives chosen.


Learner behaviour comprises collective activities displayed by the learner. Learner behaviour is different at the point in time they begin to participate in the teaching-learning process, it varies during the process and finally, at the end of the process. For our purpose, we are concerned with entry and terminal beaviour, which are assessed by the teacher. Entry behaviour comprises the activities/responses of the learners prior to the teaching-learning process. The prior knowledge of learners, their interests, attitudes, abilities, etc make up the entry behaviour of students. Terminal behaviour comprises the activities/responses displayed by learners after the completion of the teaching-learning process. Thus the change in behaviour after the teaching-learning process will make up the terminal behaviour.

Check Also: New aiou solved assignment code 624


According to Gagne,

The essential task of the teacher is to arrange the conditions of the learner’s environment so that the processes of learning will be activated, supported, enhanced, and maintained.

Teacher behaviour will vary from teacher to teacher and from one learning situation to another. This variable can be broken down into various components; we are currently concerned with four.

Teacher personality

Personality has being defined in various ways. Allport’s definition, one of the most comprehensive is:

Personality is the dynamic organisation within the individual of those psychosocial systems that determine his unique adjustment to his environment.

Personality can be said to have two aspects: social stimulus value and response value. The former detemines the influence a person’s personality has on others, whether he is attractive, whether he causes others to model their behaviour on his, and so on. The latter is the manner in which others respond to a person.

The behavior of the teacher depends on his/her personality as well as on the impact it has on the learners, the way in which learners respond to him/her, thus influencing communication (verbal and non-verbal), motivation, interaction with students (both within and out of the learning situation), methods of teaching, time spent on content, etc. In bief, the teacher’s personality determines the learning environment, thus determining the response of the learners, to the extent of impacting achievement, attitude, self-esteem, participation and so on.

A study by WJF Lew reviewed older studies and identified the personality traits of effective teachers. It makes for interesting reading; suggest you have a look at it:
Personality traits of effective teachers

Teaching Style

Style is a predominantly personal way of doing something, whether it is wearing clothes or writing a letter (or e-mail). Teachers also have a personal style of teaching which they carry from one learning situation to another and they also moderate their style to suit the content being transacted, for instance, teaching style in the laboratory will be different from that in the classic classroom. Teaching style is affected by the teachers’ beliefs about what is good teaching, their personal preferences, personality and abilities, and the content to be transacted, as evidence in the example mentioned in the prior sentence.

Instructors develop a teaching style based on their beliefs about what constitutes good teaching, personal preferences, their abilities, and the norms of their particular discipline. Some believe classes should be teacher-centered, where

The various styles can be classified into the following broad categories:

Formal Authority

Also referred to as the ‘sage on the stage’ model, this style is teacher-centred with the teacher being responsible for providing the learning experience to students and students being recipients of the experience. Although students may participate (ask and answer questions, clarify doubts), their participation is not central to the teaching-learning process. For instance, a lecture.

Demonstrator or Personal Model

This is a teacher-centred model wherein the teacher demonstrates or models behaviour but student participation is then necessary for learning. The teacher expects the students to reproduce the skills demonstrated, acting as a guide or coach to ensure appropriate learning. For instance, a demonstration of an experiment to then be undertaken by students.


Also referred to as ‘guide by the side’ model, this is a student-centred style of teaching with the responsibility of learning predominantly with the learners. It involves independent learning, and collaborative learning and problem solving. Group activities are designed which need active participation by students, leading to desired learning. For instance, projects.


In this style, the teacher delegates the responsibility of learning to individual students or groups of students, who are then entirely responsible for learning, from motivating themselves to self-evaluation during learning. The teacher acts as a mere consultant. For instance, assignments.

Teacher Expectations

According to Cooper and Goody,

Teacher Expectations refer to inferences that teachers make about the future academic achievement of students…teachers respond on the basis of their existing expectations for students rather than to changes in student performance caused by sources other than the teacher.

Thus, if a teacher expects a child to be able to solve mathematical problems successfully and communicates this expectation to the student, either through verbal or non-verbal communication, the chances are that the child will be able to meet the teacher’s expectations; unfortunately, the reverse is also true. In this manner, the teacher’s expectations become a ‘self-fulfilling prophecy’.
To elaborate, generally teachers have dfferent expectations from different students in terms of behaviour and achievement. In keeping with these expectations, teachers behave differently towards these students, thus communicating their expectations to the learners. Unless the learner resists these expectations, his/her behaviour will change to be consistent with the expectations, thus reinforcing the teacher’s expecatations and creating a visious cycle. Follow this link to find out more about teacher expectations as a variable in the teaching-learning process:
Pygmalion in the Classroom

Teacher competence

The General Teaching Council for Scotland defines teacher competence as comprising:

professional knowledge and understanding

professional skills and abilities

professional values and personal commitment

These are further elaborated as:

Professional Knowledge and Understanding

(a) have detailed knowledge and understanding of the relevant areas of the pre-school, primary or secondary school curriculum;
(b) have sufficient knowledge and understanding to fulfil their responsibilities for literacy and numeracy; personal, social and health education; and ICT. (As appropriate to the sector and stage of development.);
(c) understand the nature of the curriculum and its development;
(d) have sufficient knowledge and understanding to meet their responsibilities to teach cross-curricular aspects;
(e) have a broad, critical understanding of the principal features of the education system, educational policy and practice, and of their part in it;
(f) have detailed working knowledge of their sector, of the school(s) in which they teach, and of their professional responsibilities within them;
(g) can articulate their professional values and practices and relate them to theoretical principles and perspectives;
(h) have research-based knowledge relating to learning and teaching and a critical appreciation of the contribution of research to education in general.

Professional Skills and Abilities

(a) are able to plan coherent and progressive teaching programmes which match their pupils’ needs and abilities, and they can justify what they teach;
(b) communicate clearly, making skilful use of a variety of media, and interact productively with pupils, individually and collectively;
(c) use a range of teaching strategies and resources which they can evaluate and justify in terms of curriculum requirements and of the needs and abilities of their pupils;
(d) set and maintain expectations and pace of work for all pupils;
(e) work co-operatively with other professionals and adults;
(f) organise and manage classes and resources to achieve safe, orderly and purposeful activity;
(g) manage pupil behaviour and classroom incidents fairly, sensitively and consistently, making sensible use of rewards and sanctions, and seeking and using the advice of colleagues when necessary;
(h) understand and apply the principles of assessment, recording and reporting;
(i) use the results of assessment to evaluate and improve their teaching, and the learning and attainment of the children they teach.

Professional Values and Personal Commitment

(a) learn from their experience of practice and from critical evaluation of relevant literature in their professional development;
(b) convey an understanding of practice and general educational matters in their professional dialogue and communication;
(c) reflect on and act to improve their own professional practice, contribute to their own professional development, and engage in the process of curriculum development;
(d) should show in their day-to-day practice a commitment to social justice and inclusion;
(e) take responsibility for their professional learning and development;
(f) value, respect and are active partners in the communities in which they work.

The American Federation of Teachers has also identified standards for teacher competence in student assessment, a vital part of the teaching-learning process as:

The scope of a teacher’s professional role and responsibilities for student assessment may be described in terms of the following activities. These activities imply that teachers need competence in student assessment and sufficient time and resources to complete them in a professional manner.

Activities Occurring Prior to Instruction

(a) Understanding students’ cultural backgrounds, interests, skills, and abilities as they apply across range of learning domains and/or subject areas;
(b) understanding students’ motivations and their interests in specific class content;
(c) clarifying and articulating the performance outcomes expected of pupils; and
(d) planning instruction for individuals or groups of students.

Activities Occurring During Instruction

(a) Monitoring pupil progress toward instructional goals;
(b) identifying gains and difficulties pupils are experiencing in learning and performing;
(c) adjusting instruction; (d) giving contingent, specific, and credible praise and feedback;
(e) motivating students to learn; and
(f) judging the extent of attainment of instructional outcomes.

Activities Occurring After The Appropriate Instructional Segment

(e.g. lesson, class, semester, grade)
(a) Describing the extent to which each pupil has attained both short- and long-term instructional goals;
(b) communicating strengths and weaknesses based on assessment results to students, and parents or guardians;
(c) recording and reporting assessment results for school-level analysis, evaluation, and decision-making;
(d) analyzing assessment information gathered before and during instruction to understand each students’ progress to date and to inform future instructional planning;
(e) evaluating the effectiveness of instruction; and
(f) evaluating the effectiveness of the curriculum and materials in use.

Teacher’s Involvement in School Building and School District Decision-Making

(a) Serving on a school or district committee examining the school’s and district’s strengths weaknesses in the development of its students;
(b) working on the development or selection of assessment methods for school building or school district use;
(c) evaluating school district curriculum; and (d) other related activities.

Teacher’s Involvement in a Wider Community of Educators

(a) Serving on a state committee asked to develop learning goals and associated assessment methods;
(b) participating in reviews of the appropriateness of district, state, or national student goals associated assessment methods; and
(c) interpreting the results of state and national student assessment programs.

AIOU Solved Assignment 1& 2 Code 624 Autumn & Spring 2023

Q.2   How can a teacher apply the Bruner’s model to teaching to make his lesson effective?

ANS:- Earlier this week I delivered to a small number of staff a voluntary CPD session on Bruner’s Learning Model as a strategy to support planning for our Inspire curriculum band. The Inspire cohort is made up of our disaffected pupils with behavioural issues. However, the Inspire band is still in its early days and most of the curriculum content on offer is what many of the pupils disliked and rejected in the first place. During a previous training session I said to staff that the Inspire cohort is an opportunity to test new teaching strategies and take risks to engage and improve the progress of our most hard to reach learners. As a teacher of the Inspire cohort, I walked the walk and took the opportunity to try new strategies that I could feedback and discuss with staff. The one strategy that appears to have made the biggest difference was Bruner’s Learning model.

Jerome Bruner believes that education is about discovery and making the learner independent. In his influential book The Process of Learning Bruner suggests three modes of learning to achieve this: Enactive/Concrete, Iconic/Pictorial and Symbolic/Abstract. Although he based his examples using early years, Bruner believes that the learning model can be applied at any age when new knowledge is being constructed. However, the teaching cannot ignore the pupil, instead the pupil most take an active role. Although Bruner worked with Piaget, his views are more aligned with Vygotsky and other constructivists. Constructivists argue that learning occurs through the interactions, experiences and reflection, not in isolation. Contary to some criticism, constructivism does not disregard the role of the teacher and their specialist knowledge irrelvant. Instead, constructivism  considers the teacher as being vital in helping pupils construct knowledge rather than to produce a list of facts or figures.

Interestingly the success of Bruner’s Learning Model is also evident in Singapore. In the 1980s Singapore applied the model to deliver a new engaging and discovery based mathematics curriculum that since has accelerated Singapore to the top of the mathematics table for pupil performance. Commercially referred to as Singapore Maths, the success of the model shows promise if applied effectively to other subject areas.

I applied Bruner’s Learning Model with my Year 7 Inspire cohort on the topic of organs and tissues. The enactive stage is about stripping back all the detail so to focus soley on the core knowledge in an active way. For example, we were learning about organs, so I had them all stand up. I pointed to each organ in the body and stated the organ. The pupils repeated. We then played a game in which I call Knock Out. The rules are that I point to an organ and they have to say it (or vice-versa). Whoever says it last or wrong has to sit down. Whoever is the last standing wins. It’s a fun, interactive form of rote learning that helps pupils learn the key words.

The iconic stage consisted off the pupils cutting out organs and having to paste them correctly in an outline of a person. Many of them were referring to knockout to help them located the organs. Also, at this stage, we dissected a rat so that they could see real organs and successful locate them. During the dissection we began to discuss the function for each organ and how some organs work together is systems.

The final stage is symbolic and that is using language to demonstrate and expand on understanding. I had the pupils write a report on the dissection that included the organs, where they are located and their function in the body. This was followed up by spending a lesson correcting any misconceptions about organs and their functions. The result was promising with the majority of my pupils making better than expected progress, in particular three pupils with targets of 3A achieving two level 5s and one level 6.

The positives were that the pupils made exceptional progress, engagement and there were no behavioural issues, the downside is that I ran out of time. The last topic about the parts of the microscope will have to be picked up in another unit of work, however, I believe that the progress the pupils made outweigh any concerns of rushing through the curriculum. In fact, I suspect that they have a deeper understanding of the key concepts that will benefit them in the long run instead of a crammed scheme of learning that only scratches the surface of understanding. I will be cautious as it is my first half term using the method but my current impression of  Bruner’s Learning Model is positive and believe it can improve the learning and progress of our pupils.

AIOU Solved Assignment 1& 2 Code 624 Autumn & Spring 2023

Q.3   Differentiate between autocratic and permissive style of teaching.


ANS:- Difference Between Autocratic and Democratic Leadership

July 10, 2017 By Surbhi S Leave a Comment

Leadership is a skill, which requires a person, to influence the subordinates to work voluntarily, and stimulating them to put their efforts, in achieving the goals of the organisation. Based on the objectives and the subordinates, the organisation can choose from different leadership styles. Autocratic leadership also called as monothetic leadership, is one of the styles, which encompasses centralization of the decision making power.

In autocratic leadership, the leader directs the subordinates regarding what is to be done and how is to be done. On the other extreme, the Democratic leadership is one that gives the subordinates equal chance of participating in the decision-making process as to what is to be done and how it is to be done.

Check out the article presented to you, which explains the difference between autocratic and democratic leadership.

Content: Autocratic Leadership Vs Democratic Leadership

  1. Comparison Chart
  2. Definition
  3. Key Differences
  4. Conclusion

Comparison Chart

Meaning Autocratic leadership is one wherein a line of demarcation exist between the leader and his followers and all the decisions are taken by leader solely. Democratic leadership alludes to a type of leadership in which the leader shares decision making power and other responsibilities with the group members.
Authority Centralized Decentralized
Behavior orientation Task Oriented Relation Oriented
Conceived from Theory X Theory Y
Control High level of control Low level of control
Autonomy Less High
Suitability Appropriate when the subordinates unskilled, uneducated and obedient. Appropriate when team members are experienced, qualified and professional.


Definition of Autocratic Leadership

Autocratic Leadership, or otherwise called as authoritarian leadership, is a leadership style adopted by the management, involving one man control over all managerial decisions of the organisation, without consulting with the subordinates. Under autocratic leadership, centralization of power exists, that lies in the hands of the leader, and so there is marginal input from the group members. Thus, all the decisions regarding the policies and procedures are taken by the leader himself/herself.

The autocratic leader dominates the entire group of subordinates, through coercion and command. The subordinates are supposed to follow the orders given by the leader unquestioningly.

It best suits the organisations where quick decision making is required. Further, when the subordinates are not much educated and experienced, autocratic leadership is appropriate.

Definition of Democratic Leadership

The leadership style which involves the considerable amount of participation of the employees in the decision-making process and organisation’s management is known as participative or democratic management. The suggestions and opinions of the subordinates are given importance. Indeed they are frequently consulted, on different matters.

Here, the leaders consider the opinion of the group and work accordingly. Moreover, the employees are informed about every matter which affects them.

There exist an open-end communication, through which the subordinates can communicate directly with the other members of the organisation, be it top level or bottom level. Democratic leadership encourages freedom of expression, independent thinking and participative decision making.

Key Differences Between Autocratic and Democratic Leadership

The difference between autocratic and democratic leadership can be drawn clearly on the following grounds:

  1. Autocratic leadership can be defined as a leadership style, wherein a clear line of demarcation between leader and follower exist, as the leader has got the absolute power of commanding and decision making. On the other hand, a leadership style in which the leader values the opinions and suggestions of the followers, but retains the final decision-making power in his/her hands is known as democratic leadership.
  2. There is centralization of powers in case of autocratic leadership, whereas the authority is delegated to the group members in democratic leadership.
  3. Autocratic leadership is task oriented that gives more emphasis on the completion of the task successfully. As against, the Democratic leadership is relation oriented, which aims at improving the superior-subordinate relationship, by sharing powers with the group members.
  4. The idea of autocratic leadership is derived from McGregor’s Theory X on motivation. On the contrary, democratic leadership is conceived from McGregor’s Theory Y on motivation.
  5. High level of control is present in autocratic leadership, whereas democratic leadership involves the low level of control.
  6. There is a freedom of expression and independence in thinking, in democratic leadership, which is not in the case of autocratic leadership.
  7. Autocratic leadership is best suited when the followers or group members are not so educated and skilled, but at the same time, they are obedient. As against, the Democratic leadership is appropriate when the group members are experienced, qualified and professional.


When it comes to effectiveness, democratic leadership is a step ahead than autocratic leadership.

One can make a choice between the two leadership styles, considering the immediate goal and subordinates. When the immediate goal of the concern is increase in output and subordinate’s need for independence is low, autocratic leadership style proves better. However, the immediate goal tends to be job satisfaction as well as the subordinates require the greater degree of independence, democratic leadership style is best.

AIOU Solved Assignment 1& 2 Code 624 Autumn & Spring 2023

Q.4   When is demonstration method appropriate? Discuss advantages and disadvantages.

ANS:- You are here: Home / B.Ed. / Demonstration method as teaching strategy : B.Ed. Notes

Demonstration method as teaching strategy : B.Ed. Notes

August 23, 2017 by physicscatalyst 3 Comments


This article is about Demonstration method as teaching strategy and is for B.Ed. students. This is a very important topic from exam point of view. I have tried to give notes in easy to follow language. Hope they help you. You must also know about Lecture method as teaching strategy.

The word demonstration means to give demos or to perform the particular activity or concept. In demonstration method, the teaching-learning process is carried in a systematic way. Demonstration often occurs when students have a hard time connecting theories to actual practice or when students are unable to understand applications of theories. In order to make a success of demonstration method, three things are necessary.

(a) The object being displayed during demonstration should not be so small.

(b) During the demonstration, the clear language should be used so that pupils may understand concept easily.

(c) The pupils should be able to question teachers in order to remove their difficulties.

Characteristic of demonstration method

(1) The demonstration should be done in a simple way.

(2) In this strategy, attention is paid to all students.

(3) Goals and objections of demonstration are very clear.

(4) It is a well-planned strategy.

(5) Time is given for rehearsal before the demonstration.

Steps of Demonstration method

There are six steps of demonstration process.

(1) Planning and preparation

proper planning is required for good demonstration. For this following points should be kept in mind.

  • Through the preparation of subject matter.
  • lesson planning
  • collection of material related to the demonstration.
  • rehearsal of demonstration.

In order to ensure the success of demonstration, the teacher should prepare lesson minutely and very seriously.

(2) Introducing the lesson

The teacher should motivate students and prepare them mentally for the demonstration.

The teacher should introduce the lesson to students keeping in mind the following things.

  • individual differences
  • Environment
  • Experiences

The lesson can also be started with some simple and interesting experiments. Very common event or some internal story.

The experiment should be able to hold the attention of students.

(3) Presentation of subject matter

– In demonstration presentation of subject matter is very important.

– The principle of reflecting thinking should be kept in mind.

– The teacher should teach the student in such a way that their previous knowledge can be attached to their new knowledge.



(4) Demonstration

-The performance in the demonstration table should be ideal for the student.

-The demonstration should be neat and clean.

(5) Teaching Aids

-The teacher can use various teaching aids like models, blackboard, graphs etc.during demonstration.

(6) Evaluation

-In this last step, evaluation of the whole demonstration should be done, so that it can be made more effective.

Merits of demonstration method

(1) It helps a student in having a deeper understanding of the topic.

(2) It helps students remain active in teaching -learning process.

(3) It leads to permanent learning.

(4) It accounts for the principles of reflective thinking.

(5) It helps to create interest for topics among students.

(6) It helps in arousing the spirit of discovery among students.

(7) It imparts maximum learning to students.


(1) Students can not benefit with direct and personal experiences as teacher carry out the demonstration.

(2) It can be costly as it requires costly materials.

(3) It can be a time-consuming method.

(4) It is not based on learning by doing.

(5) This method does not provide training for the scientific method.

(6) There is a lack of experienced teachers to carry out the demonstration.


It is the most suitable method for teaching the secondary classes. If a teacher feels that the demonstration is taking much time than he would have to take the help of students. Similarly, a small group of students can be invited to the demonstration table. Students can also demonstrate the experiment.  This might help in removing objection regarding non-availability of learning by doing approach.

AIOU Solved Assignment 1& 2 Code 624 Autumn & Spring 2023

Q.5   What is difference between project method and activity based method? Elaborate with examples.

ANS:- A project is a multistep activity undertaken by an individual or group to achieve a particular aim. With that broad definition there’s a lot of project-based learning happening in schools these days. Some is better than others and there are a lot of variations: some thin, some deep; some teacher-led, some student-driven; some with clear deliverables, and some very open-ended.

In an effort to help educators select a strategy appropriate for intended outcomes, this post is an attempt at providing a framework for variations on project-based learning (PBL) and part of our project-based world campaign.

Gold Standard PBL

Buck Institute for Education (BIE) defines project-based learning as “a teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to an engaging and complex question, problem or challenge.” Their Gold Standard PBL Essential Project Design Elements include:

  • Key Knowledge, Understanding and Success Skills.The project is focused on student learning goals, including standards-based content and skills such as critical thinking/problem solving, collaboration and self-management.
  • Challenging Problem or Question.The project is framed by a meaningful problem to solve or a question to answer, at the appropriate level of challenge.
  • Sustained Inquiry.Students engage in a rigorous, extended process of asking questions, finding resources and applying information.
  • The project features real-world context, tasks and tools, quality standards or impact. Or it speaks to students’ personal concerns, interests and issues in their lives.
  • Student Voice & Choice.Students make some decisions about the project, including how they work and what they create.
  • Students and teachers reflect on learning, the effectiveness of their inquiry and project activities, the quality of student work, obstacles and how to overcome them.
  • Critique & Revision.Students give, receive and use feedback to improve their process and products.
  • Public Product.Students make their project work public by explaining, displaying and/or presenting it to people beyond the classroom.

We think that is a good and useful set of design principles. Most of it applies not only to project-based learning but also to a group of related instructional strategies. We see seven key dimensions (design variables) for projects and related learning activities:

  • Outcomes:Clearly defined up front or open-ended
  • Directed:Teacher designed or student designed
  • Scope:Narrow or integrated
  • Steps:Short problems or extended multi-step project
  • Approach:Individual or team
  • Manager:Teacher managed or student managed
  • Combinations:PBL combined with other strategies

Each of these dimensions offers a series of tradeoffs. The continua presented below aren’t a range of bad to good, they are a series of instructional strategies that should be consciously selected for a set of intended outcomes.

Outcomes: Clearly Defined Up Front or Open-Ended

Projects typically have a set of desired outcomes and defined deliverables; often knowledge, skills as well as dispositions. Desired outcomes are often incorporated into a rubric assessment and clearly communicated up front.

Learning experiences with less well-defined content outcomes (although they may be quite specific to a particular skill set) include:

  • Inquiry-based learningfocuses on questioning, critical thinking and problem-solving. “The idea behind true inquiry-based learning is to ignite your students’ curiosity, the spark that motivates them and makes them want to learn more,” said Chicago teacher Georgia Mathis. She identifies three or four lines of inquiry explored simultaneously over a five-week period allowing student voice and choice in production of something that demonstrates acquisition of knowledge and understanding. With well-defined lines of inquiry and guidance in research and production, inquiry-based learning is very similar to project-based learning.
  • Applied learningemphasizes hands on experiences. Like Project Lead The Way courses, they may be a series of teacher-led activities or more open-ended projects.
  • Maker educationis only bounded by the materials, tools, and creativity of teachers and learners. It’s a design and tinkering experience based on a particular challenge and/or set of resources (see 18 part makerspace series by Lindsey Own).
  • Exploration-based learningincludes virtual science environments, virtual reality expeditions, and outdoor learning experiences. Pathways may be limited, directed, adaptive or open-ended.
  • Creative play, such as the Global Cardboard Challenge, lets children explore their interests and passions through open-ended activity but can be relatively specific about desired outcomes including creativity, critical thinking, resourcefulness, perseverance and teamwork.
 Well defined outcomes    →     Identified options     →    Guided discovery     →    Open ended

Directed: Teacher Designed or Student Designed

Project topics and deliverables can be defined by a teacher as they are at most New Tech Network schools.

Project topics and deliverables can be defined by a teacher as they are at most New Tech Network schools.

Teachers at Katherine Smith Elementary in San Jose ( a New Tech affiliate) use driving questions to scope projects (like the primary geometry project right). Student products may be similar but not identical.

At Harmony Public Schools, projects are co-designed by students and teachers. Project Director Burak Yilmaz adds, “Learning looks fun and engaging in Harmony thanks to our unique PBL approach.” (See for more info on the model.)

Senior projects often share a common deliverable framework but leave the topics wide open. Examples include policy projects at Chavez Schools and Catalyst research projects at Singapore American School.

Moving to the right on teacher-versus student-directed continuum increases voice and choice and it increases variability of topics and outcomes and could lead to learning gaps (what some critics call the “swiss cheese” problem).

 Teacher defined        →         Product options         →        Topic options      →       Open ended

Scope: Narrow or Integrated

A project can be narrowly defined or covering multiple subjects. Schools in the New Tech and High Tech High networks help students frame projects that integrate typical (e.g., social studies and English) and surprising (e.g., math and art) subjects. Students in Harmony’s Learner-Centered STEM model are required to complete long-term interdisciplinary projects that connect STEM to the Humanities.

The 9th grade STEM class at El Paso High (right) combines software design, physics, math and a little carpentry (and is in Spanish one week, English the next).

Most real world problems are multidisciplinary in nature but supporting them in school requires collaboration across departments and schedules. In addition to content knowledge, even narrowly defined project typically teach research, self- management, communication and often collaboration skills.

 Focused topic (modern poetry)  →   Integrated (bioinformatics)  →   Multidisciplinary (STEAM)

Steps: Problem or Project

Problem-based learning is usually confined to a subject (like math) and includes short tasks or lines of inquiry. The product or proposed solution may be expressed in writing or a presentation.

Projects typically require more steps including independent inquiry and require creation of a complex product for presentation to a public audience. (See John Larmer’s discussion of Project Based Learning vs. Problem Based Learning vs. XBL).

 Problem                     →                 Small project                 →               Large long-term project

Approach: Individual or Team

Projects can be assigned to individuals, pairs or teams. Team projects teach important lessons about collaboration but can give rise to a free rider problem where some team members don’t make an equal contribution. A common solution is identifying and assessing individual contributions to the team effort.

 Individual project          →          Team with individual contributions          →           Team project

Manager: Teacher Managed or Student Managed

In business, a project manager is responsible for timeline, staffing, resources, budget and deliverables. She may have to negotiate all of these with an executive sponsor. In schools, timelines and budgets may be smaller and teachers are likely to control approach (individual or team), but there’s still the question of who manages time and deliverables.

Ron Berger, EL Education, encourages continuous assessment in a project-based environment. “If the teacher isn’t assessing all along the way then the final product will not typically show the high quality of success,” he explains. “You don’t want to undermine the quality of the final product by taking away the scaffolding, but you want a sense of individual student levels of understanding throughout that flow.” Ron suggests, “Don’t wait; check along the way.”

However checking in can turn into management, where a teacher is directing each step. The key to building student agency and project management skills is requiring student project managers to make adjustments in their approach, schedule and work product. If a teacher manages every step of the way it may lead to better deliverables, but students lose the opportunity to learn valuable project management lessons.

Leaders at Harmony Public Schools, a PBL network that prioritizes deeper learning, are very intentional about training teachers to recognize new roles as co-project managers with students. At Harmony, this means a ” strong system of on-demand support.”

 Teacher managed   →     Heavy scaffolding    →    Teacher as coach    →    Student managed

Combinations: PBL Combined with Other Strategies

Even well-known “wall-to-wall” project-based schools like Bulldog Tech in San Jose use a variety of strategies. For example, Bulldog math teachers use problem-based learning: short activities that don’t result in a public product.

A new generation of schools are combining the benefits of personalized learning with project-based learning. Thrive Public School founder Dr. Nicole Assisi said there was no risk of learning gaps at Thrive given their approach to blended and personalized learning. While blended learning rotations fill in content gaps, “project-based learning is necessary to engage learners, to build enthusiasm and support authentic work and exhibition,” said Assisi. She added, “If school is just skills building and no application, where’s the joy?”

In addition to personalization strategies in a blended environment, projects are often combined with both more prescriptive strategies such as whole group instruction and lab experiments as well other inquiry-based strategies including Socratic Seminars and literature discussions.

 Projects                  →              Projects + personalization               →             Multiple strategies

Project-based learning is a high engagement strategy that can lead to powerful learning outcomes, if well designed and combined with supports that ensure that all students are prepared to benefit and enjoy the rewards of a quality public product.

This blog is part of “It’s a Project-Based World” series. To learn more and contribute a guest post for the series, see the Project-Based World page. Join in the conversation at #projectbased.



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