This is the "Introduction to PBL" page of the "Project-Based Learning" guide.
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Project-Based Learning   Tags: 21st century skills, pbl  

Last Updated: Oct 30, 2013 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

Introduction to PBL Print Page


Life is not multiple choice and most of the time, there is more than one way to solve problems. Life is therefore project-based. So why do we continue to focus so much on getting the right answers in everyday teaching and learning? Let's focus instead on preparing students for life.

"In the 21st Century, education is about project-based learning, connections with peers around the world, service learning, independent research, design and creativity, and more than anything else, critical thinking and challenges to old assumptions."

- Prakash Nair


Why Project-Based Learning?

Students will use engaging technologies in collaborative, inquiry-based learning environments with teachers who are willing and able to use technology's power to assist them in transforming knowledge and skills into products, solutions, and new information.


What is Project-Based Learning?


Critical Elements of Project-Based Learning

(adapted from the Buck Institute for Education)


Rigorous, meaningful and effective Project-Based Learning:

  • Is intended to teach content in depth. Goals for student learning address the content standards and are multi-disciplinary.

  • Requires critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, and various forms of communication. Students need to do much more than recalling information. They need to use higher-order thinking skills and learn to work as a team. They must listen to others and make their own ideas clear when speaking, be able to read a variety of material, write or otherwise express themselves in various modes, and make effective presentations. These skills, competencies and habits of mind are often known as “21st century skills,” because they are prerequisite for success in the 21st century workplace.

  • Requires inquiry as part of the process of learning and creating something new. Students ask questions, search for answers, and arrive at conclusions, leading them to construct something new: an idea, a solution or a product.

  • Is organized around an open-ended Driving Question. This focuses students’ work and deepens their learning by framing important issues, debates, challenges or problems. Driving questions must be researcheable, relevant, higher-level thinking, and most of the time open-ended.

  • Creates a need to know essential content and skills. Project Based Learning begins with the vision of an end product or presentation. This creates a context and reason to learn and understand the information and concepts.

  • Allows some degree of student voice and choice. Students learn to work independently and take responsibility when they are asked to make choices.

  • Includes processes for revision and reflection. Students learn to give and receive feedback in order to improve the quality of the products they create.

  • Involves a public audience. Students present their work to other people, beyond their classmates and teacher – in person or online. This “ups the stakes,” increasing students’motivation to do high-quality work, and adds to the authenticity of the project.

Susanna Clavello, Coordinator, Digital Age Learning

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Susanna Clavello, M.D.
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Coordinator, Digital Age Learning
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Areas of expertise:
Instructional technology, digital resources, 21st Century Skills, interactive whiteboards, mobile learning

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