How to Improve the Professional Education of Skilled Workers? Project Based Learning in Technical and Vocational Education

Essay, 2018

21 Pages


Table of Contents



Project Overview
Driving Question / problem
General Objective
Specific Objectives
Group Project Requirements
Content Topics Addressed
Time Line

General Rubric for Project Written Reports
General Rubric for Oral Presentation of project
Project Evaluation Questionnaire for Teachers




The development of new generations demand Technical and Vocational Education and training (TVET) institutions to create a competent, adaptable and innovative workforce, contributing to sustainable development. Learning in the XXI century should ensure students to have not only knowledge and skills but the ability to meet complex demands by drawing and mobilising physiological resources to solve professional problems in a particular context as well.

How are learning activities taking place in the TVET institutions?

The result of the baseline and diagnose assessment, lesson, observations and the teaching experience of the authors reveal different insufficiencies in the initial education of Cuban skilled workers and technicians such as:

Teachers frequently present the subject content fragmentally and decontextualized of real-life situations.

Teachers abuse of using traditional problems which are not enough to favour the development of skills to solve opened situations and real life problems.

Occasionally, Problems are solved and the field of application is not taken into consideration.

During lessons, teachers do not pay attention to real life applications.

These insufficiencies of teachers negatively impact on students because of:

Students solve problems mechanically.

Students are not able to solve real life problems.

This situation shows a contradiction between the demand of preparing a competent workforce of Cuban skilled workers and technicians and the preparation of TVET teachers in which these insufficiencies were observed.

That is way, the following problem is identified:

How to improve the professional education of skilled workers and technicians to solve the diversity of professional problems?


This article looks at the above mentioned problem through of the lenses of the Project Based Learning (PBL) pedagogy. It assumes that education provides students' deeper engagement with learning and school through active exploration of real world problems and challenges which can only be addressed with interdisciplinary approaches.

The article shows TVET teachers some key issues regarding PBL pedagogy and an example of PBL implementation based on the Cuban educational context.

A literature review showed that the roots of PBL are in the progressive educational movement which promoted more student involvement and engagement (Peterson, 2012). It is recognized that William Heard Kilpatrick developed the "Project Method" inspired by the philosophy of John Dewey.

However, evidence have been found that the concepts of learning through projects was developed in the XVII and XVIII centuries (Knoll, 1997).

How is PBL Defined?

A bibliographic research on this topic showed that PBL is seen indistinctively as a pedagogy, a pedagogical approach, an active style of learning, a type of inquiry, based learning and a method.

For example, the free encyclopedia Wikipedia defines PBL as 'a student - centered pedagogy that involves a dynamic classroom approach in which it is believed that students acquire a deeper knowledge through active exploration of real-world challenges problems. Students learn about a subject by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to a complex question, challenge, or problem. It is a style of active learning and inquiry-based learning.' (Wikipedia, 2018).

Stephanie Bell defines PBL as "a student-driven, teacher-facilitated approach to learning because of students pursue knowledge by asking questions that have attracted their natural curiosity." (Bell, 2010, p. 39).

On the other hand, "PBL is considered to be a particular type of inquiry-based learning where the context of learning is provided through authentic questions and problems within real world practices." (Al-Balushi & Al- Aamri, 2014).

In order to achieve the objective of this article, the definition of PBL as a method is assumed:

As stated by (Knoll, 1997, p. 59). "The project is one of the standard teaching methods. It is generally considered a mean by which students can (a) develop independence and responsibility, and (b) practice social and democratic modes of behavior."

PBL is a teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to an authentic, engaging, and complex question, Problem, or challenge." (What is PBL?, 2018).

A PBL is students driven, (Bell, 2010). That is why it usually begins with a driving question or real life problem which leads to the creation of an artifact (model, design, device, computer program, arts. etc.) by mean of completion a variety of tasks. The socialization of the project is critical and it is done in a written and oral way, summarizing the procedure used to produce the product and presenting the outcomes.

The following Benefits of PBL can be mentioned:

Provides integrated understanding of the concepts and knowledge.

Develops practical and research skills.

Facilitates collaborative learning and team work.

Facilitates interdisciplinary work (connections across different subjects)

Provides stronger and more relevant preparation.

Improves learner engagement in school.

Strengthens learner motivation and interest.

Makes learning experience more relevant and meaningful.

Allows, teachers to assign projects for students with a diverse variety of interests, motivations, intelligence, Learning styles, abilities, career aspiration and personal backgrounds.

What must a project have in order to be considered PBL?

These are (Thomas, 2000) design principles of PBL.

1. Centrality; PBL are designed considering the core curriculum elements.
2. Driving Question; PBL are focused on real life questions and problems which catch student attention and "drive" students to propose solutions considering the Central concepts and principles of a discipline.
3. Constructive Investigation; PBL involves students in a constructive investigation, in this way, students are familiarized with the scientific method and scientific activities.
4. Autonomy; PBL are students driven and the teacher play the role of facilitator or mentor.
5. Realism; PBL are not simple learning activities to be covered during a lesson. It looks at real world challenges.

Consistent with (Tellez Lazo, 2005), to implement PBL as a teaching method different phases need to be considered.

First Phase: Identification of the problem or driving question. The problem can never be imposed by the teacher. The students are free to choose the problem to be investigated but it must be in accordance with the core curriculum elements and the needs of the school and the company is which it will be implemented.

Second phase: Analysis of human and materials resources. It is important to analyse the availability of material resources to complete the project as well as the class in terms of diversity (Intelligences, Learning styles and economic, educational and cultural background).

Third phase: Design of action plan. These actions are planned from theory and practical point of views PBL is a student driven that is why the teacher serves as a facilitator during this phase.

Fourth phase: Execution of design actions. This is the longest phase. Here in this phase, individual and group work take places. The students socialize the result in collaborative ways. As the objectives of project are achieved, professional and research skills are developed.

Fifth phase: Presentation of results. Students write and present the results. This is important to develop language skills.

Sixth phase: Project evaluation. A variety of assessment methods are used such as self-assessment, Peer assessment and group assessment. Not only the result are assessed but also the whole process and development of skills, values and attitudes. These phases can be summarized as shown in Figure 1.

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Figure 1. Project Based Learning Cycle


Project Overview

It is recommended to start with an overview of the project and explaining some ideas that justify the need of the research work in order to find the solution of the identified problem. As shown in this example, a deductive procedure was used. The overview began from the most general expression of the problem (The World Food Crisis) to specific (The Community of Manati).

The World Food Crisis is a problem that affects many countries and it is seen as one of the worst calamities in the planet. According to the World Food Programme (WFP), currently there are approximately 124 million people in 51 countries are currently facing crisis food insecurity or worse. Every second one person dies due to hunger or because of causes related with the starvation in the world (UN, 2018).

Causes of this serious problem, among other things, are poverty, climate change, natural disasters, military conflicts, misuse of the environment and lack of agricultural infrastructure.

Manati is a coastal municipality on the north coast of Las Tunas province. Last century, large area of forest was cleared due to timber industry, coal production and sugar cane industry imposed by colonizers and American corporations.

These aggressive agricultural practice left a situation in which:

The soils of its principals town are mostly saline as well as affected by erosion.

Coastal area is affected by the impact of tropical storms and hurricanes.

Short raining season and large dried season.

In Manati, there is a farm in which some sustainable agricultural practices are needed to increase the fertility of the soil. That is why the following driving question or problem was identified.

Driving Question / problem

How to improve the fertility of a saline soil seriously affected by erosion. Implementing sustainable agricultural practices?

This project will provide students that are interested in sustainable agriculture with the foundational concept for the future sequence of courses in soil and plant science, organic agriculture, direct marketing, crop production and farm business operations.


The compost is the product that is obtained of compounds that form or are part of living matter of animal or vegetable origin. It constitute a great resource of decomposition of organic matter, which is used to obtain the humus.

The demand for organic products creates new export opportunities. Organic exports are sold at impressive prices 20% higher than the same products produced on non-organic farms. The market from organic agriculture can potentially contribute to local food security and improve family's incomes.

Thus the following hypothesis is stated:

If organic agricultural practices are used, the fertility and productivity of the saline soils seriously affected by erosion would be improved.

General Objective

Upon completion of this project, students should be able to develop an agriculture system that incorporates key ecological principles and sustainable management practices.

Specific Objectives

Identify the key principles of sustainable agriculture and ecology.

Describe several different models of sustainable agriculture systems.

Execute techniques to obtain organic compost.

Apply organic compost to improve the quality of the soil.

Conserve the soil using organic compounds.

Develop a culture of producers and an environmental awareness.

Identify potential career and marketing opportunities in sustainable agriculture.

Group Project Requirements

To organized the group work, we proposed the following requirements:

1. Groups of no more than four with be formed to complete the group portion of the project.
2. Each member of the group will have a given responsibility.
3. In case of a group with less than four members, each member may have more than one responsibility.
4. The Roles are as follows:

Project Leader: This member gets information to absent students, meets deadlines, fills in for absent members, coordinates the efforts of the entire group, ensures that members understand the material.

Engineer: Main design idea would come from this person; she/he works with the leader in assigning the various component to be made by the other members of the group.

Treasurer: This member develops the budge, ensures group stay on budget, keeps financial records, builds components as assigned.

Speakers/communicator: This is person who write the report and present the results of the project.

Content Topics Addressed

This project facilitates interdisciplinary work. Contact of different subject were discussed and used. For example:


Soil fertility and nutrient management.

Chemicals analysis of the soil and water.

Maintenance of soil fertility and productivity.

Integrated nutrient management.

Organic Agriculture

Conversion to organic agriculture.

Water, nutrient, pest and disease management in organic agriculture.

Crop planing in organic agriculture.


Organic chemistry.

Types of reactions.

Endothermal and exothermic reactions.


Calculation of areas and volumes.



Measurements and measuring instruments

Work, energy and power.







Materials and Resources


Manure bovine.

Remains harvest.


One inch metallic tubes.






Time Line

The project was completed in nine months, an academic year. The first and second weeks were dedicated to soil diagnose and a literature review on sustainable agricultural management. The third and fourth weeks were dedicated to collect and transport the composting materials and Montage of the piles. From the second up to the fourth month, the students prepare the compost and assess the stage of decomposition during the heating, cooling and maturing phases. The fifth month, the humus was harvested and applied to improve the quality of the soil. From the seventh up to the ninth month, the students evaluated the results. The presentation of results was held at the end of the ninth month.



A rubric with seven indicators and different levels of performance is proposed to evaluate the oral presentation of project in Table 2. Upon completion of the project the following Benefits can be summarized. The project :

Increased the fertility and productivity of the soil by means of sustainable agricultural practices.

Promoted an environmental and producer awareness at a school and community level.

Provided integrated understanding of the concepts and knowledge on sustainable agriculture.

Developed practical and research skills, values and attitudes.

Facilitated interdisciplinary work (connections across different subjects).

Improved student motivation.

Made learning experiences more relevant and meaningful.

Facilitated Placed Based Education, Inquiry Based Learning and Problem Based Learning.


As every human activity, the project was no perfect and some challenges can be summarized.

Some farmers refused to share experiences on sustainable agricultural development and soil conservation.

The students faced some concerns since they have to learn outside of school (field and home) with adults who are not trained educators.

General Rubric for Project Written Reports

A rubric with seven indicators and different levels of performance is proposed to evaluate the project written report and is shown in Table 1.

General Rubric for Oral Presentation of project

A rubric with seven indicators and different levels of performance is proposed to evaluate the oral presentation of projects in Table 2.

Table 1. General Rubric for Project Written Reports

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Table 2. General Rubric for Oral Presentation of Project

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Project Evaluation Questionnaire for Teachers

Dear teachers!

This questionnaire is a survey evaluating projects as part of the institutional self evaluation of "Gregorio Careaga Medina" Technical and Vocational Education School. The survey provides you an opportunity to evaluate the projects you were involved in the previous academic year. You are kindly requested to give your opinion through filling in the questionnaire provided.

The questions and items are shown in Table 3 and 4

Table 3. Question 1

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Thank you for the time to answer all the questions.


As a conclusion, this position paper showed that organic agriculture is a significant topic to the field of sustainable development. It also showed TVET teachers some key issues regarding PBL pedagogy and an example of Agricultural Project based on the Cuban educational context which ensure students to acquire not only the knowledge but also the skills, the ability to meet complex demands by drawing on and mobilizing physiological resources to solve professional problems in a particular context with an interdisciplinary perspective. The example increased students motivation, participation and engagement and at the same time it contributed to a deep and meaningful learning.


Al-Balushi, S.M., & Al-Aamri, S.S. (2014). The effect of environmental science projects on students' environmental knowledge and science attitudes. International Research in Geographical and, 23(3), 213-227. Retrieved on October 09,2018 from effect of environmental-science-project-on-studens-environment.

Bell, S. (2010). Project-Bassed Learning for the 21st century: skills for the future. (Routledge, Ed.) The Clearing House, 39-46.

BIE. (2018, October 22). Retrieved on October 11, 2018 from Buck Institute of Education:

FAO. (2015). FAO. Retrieved on September 12, 2018 from Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nation:

Knoll, M. (1997). The project method: its vocational education origin and international development. Journal of Industrial Teacher Education, 34(3), 59-80, Retrieved from

Peterson, B.W. (2012). Uncovering the Progressive past: The Origins of Project Based Learningunboxed. A Journal of Adult Learning in Schools (8) Retrieved on October 2, 2018 from

Tellez Lazo, L. (2005). Modelo Didactico del proyecto como forma de organization de lapractico preprofessional del tecnico medio en electricidad (Doctoral Thesis in Pedagogical Sciences). ISP Jose de la Luz y Cabellero, Holguin.

Thomas, J.W. (2000, March). BIE. Retrieved on October 2, 2018 from Institute for Education: Pdf

UN, (2018, 10 22). WFP. Retrieved on October 22, 2018 from World Food Programme:

Wikipedia. (2018). Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved on October 18. 2018 from https://


Excerpt out of 21 pages


How to Improve the Professional Education of Skilled Workers? Project Based Learning in Technical and Vocational Education
Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
improve, technical, learning, based, project, workers, skilled, education, professional, vocational
Quote paper
Usman A. Mohammed (Author), 2018, How to Improve the Professional Education of Skilled Workers? Project Based Learning in Technical and Vocational Education, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


  • No comments yet.
Look inside the ebook
Title: How to Improve the Professional Education of Skilled Workers? Project Based Learning in Technical and Vocational Education

Upload papers

Your term paper / thesis:

- Publication as eBook and book
- High royalties for the sales
- Completely free - with ISBN
- It only takes five minutes
- Every paper finds readers

Publish now - it's free