This Spring, my freshman biology classes worked on a whole-class project to design and start the construction of a pollinator garden. In part I, I shared my experience through the process and how "letting go" so students could drive their learning was a rewarding experience. In part II, I will share what my students thought of the experience through conversations, class discussions, and a survey.
Student Reflections During Planning
In one of my four classes, the students on the public relations and social media team decided to interview the teams in their classes and ask them how they thought they were progressing.
This was entirely uninitiated by me, and it was awesome to see. There were struggles early on, but students learned to work together better as the days went on.
Students Survey Results
After the project planning was completed, I asked students to take a survey via google form. Included in the questions was a chance for them to assess themselves and a chance to share their thoughts about the project as a whole. Below are some of the questions I asked and the word-for-word responses that I received from students.
- What did you learn during the course of the project?
- "Leadership skills. And even communicating with unfamiliar people."
- "I learned that communication is really important and Agreement for ideas is One of the most important when working in groups"
- "How to communicate better with others and it’s not very easy to make a pollinator garden"
- "I learned a lot about plants that I didnt know before like the anther and other plant parts I also didnt know about the decline in pollinators at all and how much that effects humans."
- What was difficult about this project?
- "Communication between groups and also taking responsibility."
- "We were not told what to do exactly so kind of starting your self in the right direction getting your self going and working."
- "Setting goals and proper communication between groups. The deadlines also came quickly and getting everything done in time was not easy."
- What did you like about this project?
- "Being able to start something by ourselves"
- "I like how we were kinda free to do anything we wanted and how we weren’t constricted"
- "Being able to contribute to something very new and amazing, this whole project was a great idea and I am proud to be able to be part of it"
- "That we got to move around more not just sit in a desk and learn what it was we needed to learn"
- "What I liked about this project is that we had fun and I learned new facts about plants and why they are important."
- How does the experience of this project compare to the traditional (normal) way we learned earlier in the year?
1 = I learned less doing a project like this.
5 = I learned more doing a project like this.
- 1 - 0%
- 2 - 1%
- 3 - 16%
- 4 - 45%
- 5 - 38%
- I would prefer to do more collaborative projects like this in my science classes.
1 = No
- 1 - 0.5%
- 2 - 3.5%
- 3 - 14%
- 4 - 41%
- 5 - 41%
The day after the garden proposals, I had each class sat in a large circle in the room and had a discussion. We discussed how problem solving outside of school and in the workplace involves multiple people that need to talk and share ideas. When I asked each class what the most difficult part of the project, the overwhelming answer was "communication."
The students felt that if they were to now work on a similar project, that they could do it in about half the time that they took for this project. They learned what worked and didn't work and how to work best with others - ever if they haven't worked with them before.
Sometimes I feel that by spending more time on large projects, I'm sacrificing content, but with the level of self-reflection and real world application, I feel that it is well worth the extra time.