Sora’s Innovative Approach: The Power of Project-Based Learning

At Sora, we implement a powerful, empirically-driven approach to academics called project-based learning. If you’re not familiar with project-based learning, or just want to learn about the slew of benefits that it offers students, this is the read for you. By the end, you’ll know why so many students prefer project-based learning over more traditional instruction methods.

What Is Project-Based Learning?

Project-based learning is a little bit more than what it sounds like on the surface. Yes, it’s learning through doing projects. But that’s not the full picture. Project-based learning places real-world problem-solving at the center of students’ education. Here are some complex, practical questions that modern society is asking:

  • How do we design more environmentally sustainable neighborhoods?
  • How can we better monitor and understand disease spread to improve public health?
  • How can we use coastal engineering to keep coastal developments safe from rising ocean levels?

With project-based learning, real-world questions like these drive curriculum. Students still learn the same math, science, literacy, and so forth. All the while their learning is grounded in meaningful, real-world topics. This makes project-based learning highly engaging and effective.

What Are The Benefits of Project-Based Learning?

Educational research has documented a robust range of benefits that project-based learning offers. Here are a few of them:

1. Project-Based Learning Dramatically Boosts Academic Performance

One study compared a cluster of schools’ performance–some of which began implementing project-based learning, while the others continued with traditional methods. After two years, the project-based learning schools yielded up to a 90 percent increase in academic performance. Two of these schools went from performing significantly below average to matching their district average. Another equally below-average performing school rose high above its district average in this two-year span. 

The schools that didn’t implement project-based learning didn’t show any significant improvement in academic performance.

2. Project-Based Learning Promotes Students’ Love For Learning

Another study demonstrated the positive effects of project-based learning on students’ motivation. When compared to traditional public school students, those students who engaged in project-based learning showed higher levels of intrinsic motivation. When you’re intrinsically motivated, you’re doing something for the love of it–or for its own intrinsic value. In other words, project-based learning promotes students’ love for learning.

This is key because intrinsic motivation is the gold standard for sustainable, successful academics:

Because intrinsic motivation is understood to be universally characteristic of health and well-being across all human cultures and stages of the life course, understanding the antecedents and consequences of supporting or undermining intrinsic motivation has practical implications in a very wide range of contexts and applied life domains. In particular, this includes educational contexts…By understanding the factors that impact intrinsic motivation, school administrators, teachers, and parents can promote intrinsic motivation, and consequently better learning outcomes and well-being.

Arlen Moller, PhD

3. Project-Based Learning Builds Students’ Confidence

Higher confidence in students continues to be one of the most consistent findings across project-based learning studies. After trying project-based learning, students tend to express higher levels of self-efficacy

Self-efficacy refers to an individual’s belief in his or her capacity to execute behaviors necessary to produce specific performance attainment. Self-efficacy reflects confidence in the ability to exert control over one’s own motivation, behavior, and social environment.

Michael Carey, PhD & Andrew Forsyth, Department of Psychology, Syracuse University

This means that project-based learning empowers students to believe in themselves. They can learn that they’re capable of tackling complex, real-world problems at a young age. 

Project-Based Learning At Sora

At Sora, students work with Learning Experts (Sora’s faculty members) to design and execute their projects. Our Learning Experts strike a thoughtful balance, empowering our students to take ownership over the learning while ensuring that each project fulfills high school credit requirements. 

Sora students learn all the subject matter that a traditional high school would teach them, plus critical skills like real-world applications, teamwork proficiency, and leadership. 

Check out these videos to hear directly from students about their unique high school experience at Sora.

Interested In Learning More?

If you’d like to learn more about our innovative high school program, click here to speak with our admissions team.

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