What is Project Based Learning? You Need to Know in the Classroom

What is Project Based Learning? Image
What is Project Based Learning?

What is Project Based Learning?

Project-based learning (PBL), also called project-based instruction, is a way of teaching that puts the focus on the students and gets them to learn by giving them interesting, real-life problems or challenges connected to the curriculum.

According to the article Project-Based Learning (PBL) Benefits, Examples & 10 Ideas for Classroom Implementation, the goal is to get students to engage with a question or challenge that requires concentration and nuanced problem-solving skills.

This question or challenge must:

  • Be open-ended
  • Encourage students to apply skills and knowledge they’ve developed in your classes
  • Allow students to take their own approaches to develop an answer and deliver a product

It’s often cross-disciplinary and based on critical thinking. It encourages students to take a rewarding, yet difficult path to skill-building and knowledge acquisition through a nuanced learning process.

Why is Project Based Learning Important?

Project-based learning gets students more involved in the class and has a direct effect on how ready they are for work when they finish.

According to the article, project-based learning is becoming more popular in schools, because they want students to learn 21st century skills and think critically. Besides that, PBL can help teachers:

  • Teach kids how to be responsible for themselves and how to use their time well.
  • Make projects that use higher-level Bloom’s taxonomy steps, such as evaluation, analysis, and synthesis.
  • Give students more than one way to be graded at different points of the project, such as a portfolio, annotated bibliography, outline, draft product, or finished project.

Students will need to know that work isn’t as simple as homework and class lessons when they leave school. It fits better with a project-based method, where workers are expected to set priorities, plan their time well, and finish their work on time. Project-based learning helps kids learn how to:

  • Creative problem-solving skills
  • The importance of collaboration
  • How to find the right tools for the job
  • How to build independent learning and project management skills
  • How to use relevant technology to find resources, communicate and produce a final product

Project-based learning is important because it helps students be curious about learning chances that matter, and gives them skills they can use for the rest of their lives.

Implementing Project Based Learning

Project Based Learning article suggests steps to implement Project Based Learning.

PBL is a way of teaching that includes a few important steps:

  1. Defining problems in terms of given constraints or challenges
  2. Generating multiple ideas to solve a  given problem
  3. Prototyping — often in rapid iteration — potential solutions to a problem
  4. Testing the developed solution products or services in a “live” or authentic setting.

Defining Problems
Students should begin a PBL project by asking questions about a matter. Just what kind of problem are they trying to solve? What can they guess about the reason for the problem? These kinds of questions will help students put the problem in the right context. When students work on a real-world problem, they should think about how the answer will help the person who will use it.

Generating ideas
Next, the students should be able to talk about and come up with new ways to solve the problem. The goal here is not necessarily to come up with good ideas, but to come up with many ideas. So, brainstorming should help students think of many ideas, while still keeping their attention on the problem. There should be rules for brainstorming meetings, like letting everyone share their ideas, not judging other people’s ideas, and building on other people’s ideas. This will help brainstorming be useful and creative.

The next step in the PBL method is usually to design and build a prototype of a solution. You can make a prototype out of a sketch, a mock-up, a role-play, or even something out of common things like pipe cleaners, Popsicle sticks, and rubber bands. The goal of prototyping is to build on the ideas that were come up with during the brainstorming stage, and quickly show what a problem-solving answer might look and feel like. Prototypes often show learners what they thought they knew, and also reveal problems that the final user of the answer might have that were not expected. Focusing on making easy prototypes also allows students to make changes to their designs quickly and easily, take feedback into account, and improve how they solve problems.

After that, students can move on to the next step in the planning process, which is testing. It’s best to try in a “live” environment. Students can learn how well their services or goods work in the real world by testing them. Students can get useful feedback on their solutions from test results, which can also lead to new things to think about. The answer should have worked, right? What changes should be made if not? This is one way that tests get students to think critically and analyze.

Example of Project-Based Learning

From 100 Project Based Learning Ideas:

A project about pollution in the environment could be an example of PBL in a K–12 school. Students could learn about different kinds of pollution, make a presentation about what they learned, and then come up with a way to lower pollution in their town.

  • They could learn the following from this project:
  • Research skills, like being able to find and evaluate good sources
  • Literacy in information, like knowing how to set up and show facts.
  • Ideas in environmental science, like where waste comes from and how it affects the environment.
  • Use creative thought and the ability to solve problems to make an action plan.
  • When they presented their results and worked together on the project, they used their communication and teamwork skills.

Example PBL Lesson Plan

Lesson Title: Taking Action Against Environmental Pollution


  • Students will research different types of pollution and their effects on the environment.
  • Students will understand the importance of taking action to reduce pollution in their community.
  • Students will design an action plan for reducing pollution in their community.


  • Internet access
  • (optional) Research materials (books, articles, etc.)
  • Presentation software (e.g., PowerPoint, Google Slides)
  • Poster board or other materials for creating an action plan


  1. Introduction: Begin by discussing the concept of pollution and its adverse effects on the environment. Ask students to brainstorm examples of different types of pollution and their environmental effects.
  2. Research: Divide students into small groups and assign each group a specific kind of pollution to research. Provide each group with internet access and research materials. Give students time to conduct research and take notes on their findings.
  3. Presentation: Have each group create a presentation on their research findings. Encourage students to be creative and use visual aids in their presentations. Allow time for each group to present their findings to the class.
  4. Action Plan: After presentations, have students work in groups to create an action plan for reducing pollution in their community. Encourage students to think creatively about ways to reduce pollution. Allow students time to research and gather additional information they may need for their action plans.
  5. Implementation and Reflection: Encourage students to present their action plans to the class or a community group. The students should explain their plan and how they will implement it. If feasible, help students implement the plan in their community; after that, ask students to reflect on what they’ve learned throughout the project, how they felt during the different steps, and the successes and challenges of their plan.
  6. Assessment: Assessment can be done in various ways, for example:
  • Evidence-based, authentic assessment by using the Unrulr app
  • Self-reflection and peer evaluations on the presentations and action plans
  • Observation of students during research, presentation, and plan implementation
  • Formal assessments such as quizzes on pollution, what was learned about pollution, and the effects it has on the environment


  • Depending on the grade level and the students, the project can be adapted to their needs. For younger students, it may be simpler to focus on one type of pollution and its effects on their community.
  • Depending on the subject, the project can be modified for the subject area, for example, science, social studies, language arts, or math.
  • For students with special needs, you can adapt the projects with specific materials or instructions.

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