is Project Based Learning?
- Project Based Learning (PBL) is an inquiry based process for teaching
and learning. In PBL, students focus on a complex question or problem,
then answer the question or solve the problem through a collaborative
process of investigation over an extended period of time. Projects
often are used to investigate authentic issues and topics found outside
of school. During the inquiry process, students learn content, information,
and facts necessary to draw conclusions about the question. Students
also learn valuable skills and habits of mind during the process.
Does Project Based Learning incorporate content and standards?
- The learning of specified subject-matter concepts and standards is at the
heart of PBL. Projects begin with curriculum standards and use aligned
assessments to determine what students have learned. Projects are then
designed around a Driving Question that knits together intended outcomes
and project activities.
How does Project Based Learning differ from problem based learning?
- PBL and problem based learning are similar, and the terms are
sometimes used interchangeably. Both are based on a method inquiry
into an authentic problem or question. Problem based learning is a
term more commonly used in colleges and universities, while Project
Based Learning is a term used in K -12 education in the United States.
Outside the United States, problem based learning or ‘project work’ is
the more common term for PBL.
Is Project Based Learning effective with all kinds of students?
- PBL can be adapted to any audience of students. In PBL-Online,
you will find a flexible methodology that can be used in elementary,
middle, and high school grade levels. The methodology also allows teachers
to design projects appropriate to their students’ reading levels
How long should projects last?
- The methodology presented in PBL-Online can be used in projects
that last a week, or ten weeks. In general, it is recommended that
projects last from 2 – 6 weeks for maximum effectiveness and
Can other teaching methods be used along with Project Based
- Yes, PBL can incorporate all traditional teaching
tools and methods, including lecture, text-books, and conventional
assessments. However, the nature of PBL demands that students spend
the bulk of the project actively working in groups or individually
to research the question and come to conclusions. Also, the advantage
of PBL is that it requires students to use specific skills, such as
collaboration, teamwork, time and task management, or presentation
skills, to conclude a project successfully. These skills cannot be
practiced or learned through traditional transmission models of education.
Why should I use Project Based Learning?
- PBL is extremely effective as a method for engaging students in
their learning. With engagement comes focus, discipline, and mastery
of academic content. Further, students have the opportunity to work
on problems and issues relevant to their lives, as well as learn vital
work and life skills necessary to their success in school or in the
I have heard projects “don’t work.” Is
- Nearly all students of any age have done “projects.” But
most projects are not based on a methodology designed to help
teachers create a driving question or problem statement, manage
students through the process of learning, or assess students. At
PBL-Online, a specific set of design principles are explained that
result in a well-designed and well-managed project.
I have heard that Project Based Learning requires too much
time. Is this true?
- PBL changes the nature of the teacher planning process. PBL often
requires more time before the project begins, since materials, performance
assessments, and activities must be mapped out before the project
begins. Once the project begins, however, teachers often find that
their time is spent working closely with students, rather than preparing
The George Lucas Educational Foundation Website www.glef.org
The Buck Institute for Education Website www.bie.org
The Road Ahead