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Projects in Higher Education

Projects in Higher Education

Author: Alison DeRudder

Describe the purpose of projects in higher education.

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what's covered
This tutorial prepares you to perform your best on projects by exploring the purpose and significance of projects in higher education. Here is what’s covered:
  1. The Purpose of Projects in Higher Education
  2. Types of Projects

1. The Purpose of Projects in Higher Education

Along with exams and papers, another type of assignment you might encounter in higher education is the project. A project, broadly defined, is an activity that involves learning about a subject by engaging over an extended period of time with a particular question, problem, or issue and producing work that demonstrates academic concepts in action.

Some instructors prefer what is called “project-based learning” to more traditional academic work because they feel projects promote an active, as opposed to a passive, educational approach. Whereas exams and papers represent work that most students will leave behind after they graduate, the projects that are assigned in college courses can be designed to simulate or prepare you for the real-world work you will do after graduation.


Because projects in higher education can be designed to simulate professional work in a given field, your work on projects in your college courses can count as relevant experience when you apply for a job or an internship. This is another reason why certain instructors and students prefer project-based learning. If your class project requires you to design or create something, like a website or a spreadsheet, upon successful completion of the project you have practical skills and experience for your résumé or portfolio.

2. Types of Projects

The term “project” can be used to describe an array of different kinds of assignments. Your assigned project might entail conducting research and delivering your findings to the class with a formal presentation. It could involve performing a scientific experiment and writing up the results or composing and distributing a survey.

If part or all of the focus of your course teaches you how to make something—an instructional video, a website, a lesson plan—your final project for the course might be to make that thing.

The purpose of projects in higher education is a way for you to demonstrate what you know and that you can apply it. There are many types of projects in higher education.