What does project-based learning mean and why is that the focus?

In the world of software development education, there are various approaches to learning. One approach that has gained significant popularity is project-based learning. In this article, we will explore what project-based learning means in the context of software development education and why it matters.

What is Project-Based Learning?

Project-based learning is an educational methodology that emphasizes learning through the completion of real-world projects. Rather than focusing solely on theory or following tutorials, project-based learning encourages students to actively engage in hands-on coding and problem-solving. It provides students with the opportunity to apply their knowledge and skills to create meaningful projects that mimic real-life scenarios.

Unlike traditional course-based learning, where students passively consume information, project-based learning promotes active learning. It encourages students to take ownership of their learning process, explore different concepts, and develop practical skills. Through project-based learning, students gain a deeper understanding of the subject matter, as they experience the challenges and complexities that arise during the development process.

The Benefits of Project-Based Learning in Software Development

1. Practical Application of Knowledge

One of the key advantages of project-based learning is that it allows students to apply the knowledge they acquire in a practical way. Instead of simply memorizing concepts, students actively use their skills to solve real problems. This practical application helps solidify their understanding and builds their confidence as developers.

2. Building a Portfolio and Resume

Another significant benefit of project-based learning is the opportunity it provides for students to build a strong portfolio and enhance their resumes. By working on projects that demonstrate their skills and problem-solving abilities, students can showcase their work to potential employers. This tangible evidence of their capabilities can greatly increase their chances of securing a job in the competitive software development industry.

3. Active and Engaged Learning

Project-based learning fosters active and engaged learning. Instead of passively consuming information, students actively participate in the learning process. They collaborate with their peers, seek solutions to problems, and learn from their mistakes. This active engagement enhances their critical thinking, problem-solving, and communication skills, all of which are essential for a successful career in software development.

4. Development of Soft Skills

In addition to technical skills, project-based learning also helps students develop essential soft skills. As they work on projects, they learn to effectively communicate their ideas, collaborate with others students if working on group projects, manage their time, and adapt to changing requirements. These soft skills are highly valued by employers and contribute to overall professional success.

Project Based Learning is Efficient

Probably the biggest advantage to project based learning in the context of learning how to code in comparison to a more conceptual education is efficiency.

Previous approaches tended to have about 80% theory being taught and 20% project based learning. However, that learning would extend over years to give an appropriate amount of time to go into depth on the concepts, internalize them, and apply them.

Project Based Learning gives just enough information to contextualize the skills be learned, but focuses on the actual building process for most of the learning time spent. That means that 80% of your time is ideally spent making software, and 20% is spent learning concepts about what you’re making.

This may lead you to believe that the approach lacks conceptual rigor and depth, but what we’ve found is that the types of students attracted to project based learning are also deeply curious about the WHY around what is being practiced, not just the HOW. This means they will do their own research as needed while learning to get more context around the skill.

For example, you may be learning how to write functions in JavaScript. A project based approach would introduce the concepts briefly, give you a practical task or project to show you how to apply them, and then have you repeat using them to “wire in” muscle memory.

As you are learning functions this way, you may open up MDN documentation to read more information about more esoteric details around functions. You may read a few blog posts dedicated to functions. You might watch some YouTube videos, or invest in a book that deep dives the topic.

With this approach, conceptual learning is always CONTEXT SPECIFIC and LEARNER DRIVEN – instead of being told what to learn conceptually, you find the conceptual knowledge you need to help you become better at the skill and satisfy your curiosity.

This is a much more enjoyable way to learn (in our opinion) and lends itself to a much deeper understanding of what has been learned. It’s all about active engagement – and engagement that is self-driven will be much more steady and productive in the long term.


Project-based learning is a powerful educational method that transforms students into competent software developers. By actively engaging in the development process and working on real-world projects, students gain practical experience, build their portfolios, and develop essential skills. devCodeCamp recognizes the value of project-based learning and incorporates it into our curriculum to provide students with an immersive, individualized, and career-focused learning experience. Embracing project-based learning sets students on the path to success in the dynamic and ever-evolving field of software development.

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