THE EUROPEAN HIGHER EDUCATION AREA AND PROJECT BASED LEARNING: IMPLEMENTING THE PBL APPROACH IN A NEW DEGREE COURSE: GENERAL LINGUISTICS I

‘General Linguistics I’ is a 6 ECTS course compulsory for all students enrolled in any of the following five university study programmes: Degree in Catalan Studies; Degree in Spanish: Language and Literatures; Degree in French Studies; Degree in English Studies; and Degree in Arabic and Islamic Studies of the University of Alicante in Spain. It is a new course designed in accordance with the European Space for Higher Education (ESHE) framework, in which ECTS is a student-centred system based on the student workload required to achieve the learning outcomes and competences to be acquired. In the 2010-2011 academic year, one of the groups in which ‘General Linguistics I’ is taught integrated project-based learning (PBL) into the curriculum to support content standards and student achievement. All students in this group were asked to work on an in-depth project and get started by answering the following driving question: ‘How can Linguistics help me to know if people speak correctly or incorrectly?’ Working in teams of five students, a total of 72 students (with approximately 70 hours per week of student workload) participated in the PBL experience for fourteen weeks. Students completed ten individual and group activities to help them scaffold the project, deepen their work and provide them with timely assessments and feedback. Finally, thirteen free-form linguistic leaflets were designed and presented to the rest of the class by each team of students. Fundamental goals projects wanted each student to achieve, demonstrate, and document – all of them essential to the ESHE process – were as follows: critical thinking, complex problem-solving, knowledge construction about linguistic issues, effective written and oral communication skills, technology literacy, responsibility and self-management, self- and peer-assessment, and interpersonal and project-management skills.