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Moscow Polytech
21 March 2018

Forming a project-based approach in education – objectives and means

March 14 a seminar “High-tech engineering projects in school and university” was held in the MEPhI. It was organized by the Moscow Poly Engineering School (faculty). Scientists, teachers and methodologists discussed how to organize the work of schoolchildren and students in a format of project-based activity, unfamiliar to them.

The event was held in the framework of the business program of the NTI Olympiad profile “Nuclear technologies” final stage. MEPhI has been arranging it already the second year running. Dean of the Engineering School (faculty) Andrey Andriushkov was the moderator of the seminar. The participants discussed various models of the project-based learning in the educational process. Head of the Center for WorldSkills Competences of MEPhI Aleksey Grekhov, Head of the Moscow Poly Center for the Project Activity Ilia Lepeshkin, an expert of the working group “EnergyNET” Igor Chausov and others shared their experience.

This year the MEPhI has been implementing an educational project aimed at development of inventor’s abilities in students: the first-year students, united in teams, develop a product to be in demand in the market in 2 years from now. According to Head of the MEPhI Center for the WorldSkills Competences Aleksey Grekhov, the profile is aimed at leading the students beyond the boundaries of a standard educational program. The main problem which they faced is lack of teamwork skills. It turned out difficult for them to elect a leader, distribute responsibilities in accordance with competences of the participants and avoid conflicts. But working in project teams is a reality of the modern industry, and that is why it is necessary for a future engineer to have such skills in order to find oneself at the labor market. A possible way out of this situation is the project-based learning at school level, in particular – involvement of schoolchildren in the project engineering competitions and programs (the NTI Olympiad, the Big Challenges, the Preprofessional Olympiad, etc.).

To avoid a contradiction between the new format and the basic school program and make it an addition to the program without putting too much load on a schoolboy, university and school should work together at introduction of the project-based learning. At the Moscow Poly this issue was solved by means of establishing a special division – the Engineering School. Andrey Andriushkov, Head of the Engineering School, told the audience about projects of the faculty – the Moscow City Contest of Research and Project Works, the School of Tutors for the Project-based Learning and others. At present around 3 000 future engineers study at 150 schools all over Moscow. The teachers worry whether they will be provided with jobs, because often there can be no explicable educational trajectory from a school project to a student and professional one.

Director of the Moscow Poly Center for the Project Activity (CPA) Ilia Lepeshkin spoke of student projects. One of the objectives of the CPA is reducing the gap between education and industry: owing to participation of the Center the curriculum was changed, and now the theoretical courses respond to the practical tasks of the students. The project teams work at a copter for the company “Copter-express”, a concept of transportation for the future for “Lada”, racing cars for participation in international competitions “Formula Student”, etc. – all in all over a hundred projects are on at the university, the list is renewed every year.

An expert of the working group “EnergyNET”, an employee of the Shiffers Institute Igor Chausov told the audience about his experience in arranging project schools. According to him, the problem of schoolchildren is in the lack of theoretical knowledge, although they are offering original solutions. But the teachers are not ready to take risk of working with schoolchildren when a problem does not have a clear-cut solution. He also urged the teachers not to reproduce old models using new technologies in the project-based work. For example, a recharging station for electric cars can be not a stationary one and not look like a petrol fueling point, it can be a portable device, suited for carrying with the car. And, of course, a result of the schoolchildren (and students) work must be a real product or a verifiable research result.









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