Tell Me More: Project-Based Learning

In the 21st Century, the approach to education is headed toward one of its most drastic shifts in pedagogy.  Yet in this new wave, our school has continued to reinvent its practices and implement new, creative, and innovative ideas.

Adding a high school last year, for our 15th anniversary as a school, was the next step in expanding our innovation to students preparing for graduation and college.  Learning Curve, our high school, is in its second year and our defining attribute is the implementation of project-based learning (PBL).

Project-based learning is a cross-curricular approach to teaching.  Students develop a project to answer a central question, working alongside their teachers.  Through the process, students direct their individual learning.  To solve a problem, they take an active roll in understanding the content to take their next step toward a solution.

“By about 1990, it became obvious to education researchers that the problem wasn’t the fault of the students; there was something wrong with the structure of schooling. If we could find a way to engage students in their learning, to restructure the classroom so that students would be motivated to learn, that would be a dramatic change”

(Krajcik & Blumenfeld, 2006).  We are a school striving to reinvent the how students engage with the content in the classroom.  Research has shown that classrooms focused on project-based learning are raising the bar of success for students when compared to students in traditional classrooms (Marx et al., 2004; Rivet & Krajcik, 2004; William & Linn, 2003).  No longer are the classrooms with a teacher preaching to uninspired students, rather our classrooms are becoming the next laboratory, news room, research facility, and concert hall of engaged young minds.

The PBL process is relative to a school’s preference, but the basic structure includes the following characteristics:

Other great resources for understanding PBL: