Phenomenon-based learning is a cutting edge approach to education pioneered in Finland. It “does not include a strict set of rules, but rather comprises a combination of beliefs and best practices supported by ongoing research. In this approach, a classroom observes a real-life scenario or phenomenon – such as a current event or situation present in the student’s world – and analyzes it through an interdisciplinary approach.” [ref] In other words, it is the ultimate in project-based learning.
The benefits of phenomenon-based learning include showing students value in theories and information in the learning situation. Students use authentic methods, sources and tools; learning is intentional and goal-oriented.
Phenomenon-based learning is not without its critics. They believe it stretches students too thin; they become deterred from excelling in a particular field. Veteran teachers have resisted phenomenon-based learning; reluctant to give up authority in the classroom to students. They question the lack of providing prior knowledge to students before embarking on phenomenon-based learning. News reports in error stated that phenomenon-based learning replaces teaching traditional subjects which it does not.
Other types of learning can complement phenomenon-based learning. These include project-based learning; Socratic learning; and flipped-classrooms. It also works well with makerspaces and is responsive to student voice. Lisa Van Gemert added, “Essential Questions and the Depth & Complexity models both complement it as well.”
Phenomenon-based learning can be used to meet the diverse needs of all students. Students from all backgrounds benefit from the structure and flexibility of phenomenon-based learning. Teachers can decide on potential project topics based on students background knowledge and personal experiences.
What strategies can teachers use to transition to phenomenon-based learning? Teachers should be open to altering teaching routines and mindsets; become well-versed in collaborative teaching. Transitioning to phenomenon-based learning does not mean abandoning traditional subject-based teaching. A transcript of this chat can be found at Storify.
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About the author: Lisa Conrad is the Moderator of Global #gtchat Powered by TAGT and Social Media Manager of the Global #gtchat Community. She is a longtime advocate for gifted children and also blogs at Gifted Parenting Support. Lisa can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Finland: Replacing Subject with Phenomenon Based Learning (YouTube 3:39) https://goo.gl/1ErY7w
Finland’s Phenomenon Based Learning (YouTube 7:10) https://goo.gl/LYY6Ms
Elementary Science Phenomena Checklist and Bank (Google Doc)
Graphic courtesy of Lisa Conrad.
Posted on March 13, 2017, in Creative Thinking, Critical Thinking, Education, gifted and talented, gifted education, PBL, Phenomenon-Based Learning, Teaching, Technology and tagged education, Finland, gtchat, PBL, TAGT. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.