Spring on the York College campus

Focus on PBL

By Colleen Karl
Students who worked on the project stand behind radio telescope mock-up.
Left to right, seniors, Computer Engineering major Felix Diaz (York, PA), Computer Science major Derek McClellan (York, PA), Computer Science major Jason Porter (Philadelphia, PA), Self-Designed BS major Ezra Moore (Dallas, PA), and Computer Science major Cody Spath (Red Lion, PA) stand with a model of the radio telescope.

Providing the opportunities students need for a quality learning experience is a concept that has become the hallmark of a York College education with strong emphasis being placed on project-based learning (PBL). PBL is when students work on a project over an extended period of time that engages them in solving a real-world problem or answering a complex question.

Earlier this year, the College hosted a PBL Showcase to acknowledge a variety of projects being undertaken by faculty and students and to educate the College community on what it means to base learning with projects outside the classroom. Examples of some projects included building and flying drones to study modern farming practices and gathering data about a reservoir, as well as designing and building a radio telescope for the York County Astronomical Society and York County Parks system. Students from across disciplines are also working alongside community partners on the renovation of the Yorktowne Hotel.

Richard Vaz, Ph.D., Director of Worcester Polytechnic Institute’s Center for Project-Based Learning (WPI), led a workshop and held a presentation. He explored how PBL fits so well into the structure of higher education and spoke about his experiences and the way WPI has successfully implemented the concept into its curriculum. Faculty and students had the opportunity to network with each other as well as with Vaz and to consider how to expand opportunities for students to explore PBL across various programs.