Here is a unique system of learning where the students have the option of taking up a project instead of the traditional form of evaluation.

The fourth semester B. Tech civil engineering students went to the very first class of “Hydraulics Structures and Machinery” thinking that it may be like any other class they had attended so far with lots of exams, assignments and quizzes. But the students were in for a surprise — the faculty told them that the major evaluation criteria in that particular class was for making a miniature model of one of the hydraulic structure students will learn in the class.

The faculty offering that class could give such an option to students, thanks to Project Based Learning (PBL) designed by VIT University. In PBL, the faculty has an option to make students take up a project instead of traditional form of evaluation that can result in a working model or a conference paper or a journal publication.

Understanding concepts

The students made miniature models of gravity dams, arch dams and super-passage and in that process learned a lot about it. “We learned each and every concept of it which I think we will all remember it more effectively than theory based learning” says Mr. Shivam Sharma, who was part of the team that made a model of super-passage.

Ms. Laksha Sharma, whose team made a model of gravity dam, was all excited when she talked about the project her team did for that class. “Our group made the model of a gravity dam using ply wood, galvanized iron sheet and Plaster of Paris. Inquisition is the first step towards creating something. We gained an indepth knowledge of the subject as well as the structure that we were trying to construct. We clearly understood the functions of all the components of a gravity dam. Moreover the sense of satisfaction that is felt on seeing one’s thoughts shape up into an actual form is not so regularly witnessed in a traditional teaching approach. Hence as an engineering student I feel that this type of approach is more effective in enhancing the learning outcomes of the students.”

Laksha’s views were shared by her class-mate Mr Rahil Shrivastava who worked on making an arch dam model. He gleefully says, “In this approach of studying, we are able to correlate the entire aspects of the subject in just one project “Arch-Dam” which helps us in understanding the interface, importance of this subject and its application. This may be a technical aspect of practical based learning but while creating nothing into a marble, the fun and enjoyment has no words to express.”

Project based learning helps a student to understand the why, where and how of a subject in a very practical and fun filled way that will make the student remember the subject forever.

The writer is Associate Professor & Program Manager (Civil Engineering),VIT University.