Developing Language and 21st C Skills Through Problem-based Learning

Conference: The European Conference on Language Learning (ECLL2022)
Title: Developing Language and 21st C Skills Through Problem-based Learning
Stream: Approaches
Presentation Type: Oral Presentation
Sophie Farag, The American University in Cairo, Egypt


Students at the American University in Cairo are expected to be able to work on group projects and produce high quality outcomes. However, coming from a school background where rote learning is stressed, many of the students joining the Intensive English Program (IEP) at the university lack the essential problem-solving, creativity, collaboration, and communication skills that are required to perform successfully on such tasks. They also need to improve their language skills before they can take content courses at the university.
A project-based course was introduced to address these needs. Throughout this course, students practised essential teamwork skills that allowed them to function successfully in a group. They began by working on short projects, such as information gap, experiential, and teambuilding activities, and activities to redesign a product for a specific need. Then students engaged in longer projects that span several weeks which focused on solving a specific problem using the process of design thinking. To develop creativity, innovative solutions were encouraged, and groups were given the freedom to choose how to organize their work and present their solution. After each project, students reflected on their performance and learning to increase self-awareness.
An end-of-semester self-evaluation survey was administered, and the results showed that the activities had a significant impact on the students’ confidence in approaching problem-solving tasks, and their ability to collaborate, think critically, create, reflect, and communicate in English. The presenter will show samples of the activities used and the skills targeted, and will report on the survey results.

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