As far back as the early 1900s, John Dewey supported the "learning by doing" approach to education. Today, Project Based Learning (PBL) is viewed as an instructional approach for classroom activity that shifts away from teacher-centered instruction and emphasizes student-centered projects. In PBL, learning is contextual, creative, and shared. Students collaborate on meaningful projects that require critical thinking, creativity, and communication in order for them to answer challenging questions or solve complex problems. By making learning relevant to them in this way, students see a purpose for mastering state-required skills and content concepts.This way students can answer the “why are we learning this” question that leads to increased student buy-in and deeper student centered learning. Students aren’t just assessed on their understanding of academic content, but on their ability to successfully apply that content when solving authentic problems. Through this process, project based learning gives students the opportunity to develop the real life skills required for success in today’s world. A project is meaningful if it fulfills two criteria. First, students must perceive it as personally meaningful, as a task that matters and that they want to do well. Second, a meaningful project fulfills an educational purpose. Well-designed and well-implemented PBL is meaningful in both ways. This is different than learning the standards and then doing a “project” at the end. Think of PBL more as the entire meal and not just the fancy dessert.
With PBL, projects focus on key learning objectives. Each project will include many of the following elements:
For more information please watch these videos about PBL as it will provide a visual context for what we do.
Short video on PBL
In Depth Video on PBL