The Value of Relevant, Project-Based Learning to Youth Development

Kerry Schwartz, Darcy Tessman, Daniel McDonald


Project Based Learning models present authentic learning opportunities with real-life situations, enabling students to set their own learning goals and forge their own relationships (Barab, et al., 2001). The autonomy inherent in this model allows youth to bring their skills and experiences to real situations and to be seen as valued community members. This article describes a project-based learning model involving “externs,” who developed and implemented sustainability projects in their communities. Externs worked with Cooperative Extension professionals on locally relevant community projects during the summer of 2011 in three Arizona counties. The project based learning experience had a positive impact on the lives of our three externs.

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