Complete Guide to Project-Based Learning

Modern science continues to develop in such a way that the older generation is constantly trying to catch up with the younger generation’s adaptation to new developments and technologies. It is only logical that we should utilize our students’ familiarity with technology from a young age to maximize their engagement and learning by integrating it into our curriculum.

Project-Based Learning grabs hold of this idea and fosters deep learning and autonomy by using technology to help students engage in issues and questions relevant to their lives. This resource will direct you to a variety of resources on this approach, the research behind it, and how you can use it in your class to transform your students into engaged and interested independent thinkers.

What is Project-Based Learning?

  • Project Based Learning from the EduPLN, a great video introducing the concept of project based learning and driving it home with a phenomenal case study in a Canadian school.
  • Bob Pearlman, a school reform site, defines project-based learning as an approach that focuses on  engaging student interests and passions in addition to building opportunities for reflection and assessment. This site also contains link s to PBL web rings online. 
  • Buck Institute for Education  provides videos that describe project-based learning and show what this educational technique looks like when applied in a classroom setting.
  • Edutopiahas created a 10 minute video that gives an overview of project-based learning.  The video highlights a number of successful project-based learning programs.
  • Global School Net defines project-based learning as an approach that enables student to make decisions within a framework, where they design a process and solution for the situation, where they are encouraged to regularly reflect on their activities, and where the classroom becomes a safe space that tolerates errors. This site also has links to examples of PBL and other useful resources. 
  • Houghton Mifflinoffers a comprehensive background on the basics and components of project-based learning. This site explains the features of project-based instruction, issue s raised through this approach, and how to apply theory to these projects.
  • PBL Network offers an informative comparison of project-based learning in relation to traditional methods. This slideshow takes you through the differences between curriculum as a prescription versus an experience, discussing both the variety of roles the teacher and students can play in learning.  
  • provides a clear definition of project-based learning. This site defines PBL as an instructional technique “based upon authentic learning activities,” and goes on further to explain their approach to successful project design. 
  • University of Georgia gives examples of what a successful project-based program looks like and also gives a variety of tips that teachers can implement to achieve a cohesive and fruitful project.
  • University of Oregon defines project-based learning as it relates to math. This site discusses the commonalities between project-based and problem based learning, while highlighting and explaining the benefits of each approach. 
  • North Carolina State University provides a detailed description of project-based learning, giving examples of projects and also discusses in detail the historical precedents of this approach.

Research Supporting Project-Based Learning

  • Buck Institute of Education highlights a study by Dr. Brigid Barron and Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond of Stanford University that shows that students learn best in collaborative setting where they can test and apply the knowledge they are taking in.
  • Design Share hosts a paper by Susan Wolff entitled, “Design Features for Project-Based Learning.” This paper discusses the findings from a study of 32 design features of the learning environment that enhance collaborative project-based learning. 
  • Dr. John R. Mergendollerpresents a paper entitled, “Managing Project- Based Learning: Principles from the Field,” which discusses the results of the interviews of 12 teachers who implemented different themes and aspects of PBL in the classroom. 
  • Edutopia compiled the opinions of a number of influential thinkers on education. Here you can access the thoughts and interview of authors and teachers alike on the benefits and concepts of project-based learning. 
  • Harvard’s Project Zero gives an article describing research into one of the foundational principles of project-based learning: multiple intelligences. 
  • John W. Thomas presents a paper entitled “A Review of Research on Project-Based Learning,” that highlights research conducted in the last ten years on the effectiveness of PBL. 
  • Michael M. Grant authors a piece entitled “Getting a Grip on Project-Based Learning: Theory, Cases, and Recommendations,” which discusses how students learn to be more autonomous through PBL and can construct more personally meaningful work and thereby be more invested in their education. 
  • Oracle Think Quest presents a White Paper entitled, “The Power of Project Learning with Think Quest,” which explains how their online community fosters and encourages thinking and activities for PBL.

How To Design a Project

  • gives a brief article on how to motivate students to thrive with their projects.  It gives pointers on how to develop the projects to spark interest and curiosity in any student.
  • Buck Institute of Education created a video detailing the process of one group of teachers for integrating project-based learning. The video specifically discusses a forensic project developed to meet a wide range of curriculum standards. 
  • California State University Sacramento gives a detailed checklist of goals that every PBL teacher should have.  The list focuses on what the teacher should focus on and how a teacher should guide a project to make it the most beneficial for students.
  • Cape Breton-Victoria Education Centre provides an excellent template for project-based learning “webquests.” Using this template, you will simply need to fill in the title of your project, then follow the instructions for each section on what else to include to ensure a productive activity. 
  • PBL Network offers two distinct tutorials for you to learn about project-based learning first hand. By participating in these demonstrations, you will better understand what comprises a good project and how to design one yourself. 
  • gives instructions on how to design and develop your own projects. They highlight 5 main principles, which all work together to form a cohesive, successful project. 
  • Small Schools Project provides a resource called ” The 6 A’s of Project planning,” to guide you in designing effective PBL projects. The 6 A’s include: Authenticity, Academic Rigor, Applied Learning, Active Exploration, Adult Relationships, and Assessment. 

Teacher Resources

  • provides a template for creating a ” project expectations ” checklist to give to students.  The checklist makes it simple to clearly communicate what the guidelines for a project are and what will be expected of students.  
  • Bob Pearlman hosts a site dedicated to strategies for school reform and shares his favorite PBL web resources in addition to providing links and information on PBL schools. 
  • Buck Institute of Technology provides a video describing how to assess and develop a students skills.  The video specifically discusses the benefits of being able to track students’ learning through an online portal. 
  • California State University Sacramento  provides an article that guides teachers on how to get the best results from their project programs.  The article helps teachers know what to expect and how to successfully guide students through their projects.
  • Carelton College provides an article giving guidelines for assessing a project s . The main points the emphasize for evaluating oral reports, for instance, are organization, content, and presentation. 
  • Education Technology Panel is an in-depth paper presented by the Expert Technology Panel on the U.S. Department of Education. This paper discusses the variety of uses for technology in education, and instructs how technological integration is most effective, including uses in project-based learning. 
  • Edutopia provides a step by step guide to creating a five day Earth Day project.  This article gives a useful depiction of what a successful project looks like.
  • Gliffy provides an organizational interface that can help you develop your project and also help students organize their thoughts in a central location.
  • I U Education presents “Math Matters,” a resource for teachers using PBL in math. Their instructional video is especially useful for teachers less familiar with the PBL approach when applied to mathematics. 
  • New Tech Network shows how one school has successfully made project-based learning the center of their curriculum. Read about the practical application and success of PBL in a culture that empowers both students and teachers. 
  • Scholastic provides a useful article the discusses project-based learning using the internet. They discuss the benefits of this approach, in addition to different types of PBL projects to try.
  • Schools Moving Up provides several resources on the use of technology in education. Here you will find webinars, articles, and links on a variety of topics within this ongoing discussion.  
  • Small School’s Project provides a simple diagram for teachers that illustrates the continuum of project-based learning. Divided into 4 stages, this illustration shows how the assignment moves from the teacher’s design into the student’s control and the final assessment steps. 
  • Technology Education Reform explains how technology supports project-based learning. This resource discusses the benefits of longer blocks of time for students to engage in a project, while providing examples of projects that successfully integrate technology in PBL. 
  • The Web Projectis an excellent resource for teachers exploring the benefits of project-based learning. This site demonstrates the power of collaborative learning, and offers a space online to discuss and create projects. 
  • University of Berkley offers an introduction to WISE: Web-based Inquiry Science Environment which will explain how to integrate project-based learning into your science curriculum. 

Project Examples

  • Buck Institute of Education  highlights a project where students designed a courtyard for their school. This project is perfect for elementary aged children, whether they are familiar with project-based learning or just being introduced to the approach. 
  • Edutopiaprovides an article describing a year long architectural design project for highschoolers. The article demonstrates how a project-based learning program can challenge students to stretch themselves and reach for greater accomplishments.
  • Math Webquests offers a definition and the benefits of project-based learning in math. This site also offers link to a variety of projects for elementary, middle school, and high school appropriate “web quests.”
  • Mrs. O’s House offers a wide array of projects to try with your students. Topics range from exploring bird species and home ownership to Biomes and clean air in your community. 
  • Ohio Resource Centeroffers a variety of projects integrating technology. Topics include Art & Communication, Construction Technologies, Hospitality and Tourism, Transportation, and others. Students can work in groups or alone. 
  • Oracle Think Quest provides an online environment that seamlessly integrates technology and projects that are easy and fun to use. Here you can choose or design a project, assign groups in your class, and monitor the progress of all the projects in one place. 
  • has a library of pre-developed projects.  You must sign-up as a member, but it is a free service that grants you access to a wealth of information and activities. 
  • Sun Associates provides a very informative introduction to PBL, including different types of “learners” and what specific approaches will benefit them best. They also include a list of project examples broken down according to grade level. 

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