Project-based learning (PBL) is a learner-centered pedagogy that involves a dynamic classroom approach in which students acquire a deeper knowledge through the active exploration of real-world challenges and problems.1 It is an inquiry-based instructional approach that “concentrates on students’ use of disciplinary concepts, tools, experiences and technologies to answer questions and solve real-world problems.”2 PBL has also been defined as “a systematic teaching method that engages students in learning knowledge and skills through an extended inquiry process structured around complex, authentic questions and carefully designed projects and tasks.” 3 In PBL instructors or professors assume the role of facilitators of learning instead of being expert providers of knowledge.
Markham et al., lists six criteria for making the project rigorous and relevant. The six A’s criteria that must be met to make a project rigorous and relevant are:
1. Authentic: the project presents an authentic, real-world challenge
2. Academically rigorous: the project is academically rigorous, demanding breadth and depth
3. Apply learning: learners apply learning by using high-performance skills such as working in teams, communicating ideas, and organizing and analyzing information
4. Active exploration: learners engage in active exploration by gathering information from various resources
5. Adult Connections: learners interact and make adult connections
6. Assessment: various formal and informal assessment practices are embedded within the unit. 4
Using project-based learning benefits students in specific ways. First, it engages learners in studying real, meaningful problems that are important to them while advancing their creativity and problem-solving abilities. Second, using projects as an approach to learning enables students to grasp the difficult content. Third, PBL offers manifold benefits to student learning “including substantial interdisciplinary knowledge acquisition and an increase in motivation and responsibility.”5 Finally, students who work on projects learn to work effectively in teams.
- George Lucas Educational Foundation, “Project Based Learning”, Edutopia (2018). Accessed, July 20, 2018, https://www.edutopia.org/project-based-learning
2. Jean S. Lee et.al., “Taking a Leap of Faith: Redefining Teaching and Learning in Higher Education Through Project-Based Learning,” Interdisciplinary Journal of Problem-Based Learning, vol 8, Iss. 2 (March 2014), accessed July 20, 2018, https://docs.lib.purdue.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1426&context=ijpbl
4. Thom Markham and John, Larmer, & Jason Ravitz, Project based learning handbook: A guide to standards-focused project-based learning, 2nd ed. (Novato, CA: Buck Institute for Education., 2003), 34.
5. Jean S. Lee et.al