Project Based Learning for 21st Century Students

Created and maintained by Pam Williams, Technology Integration Specialist CBSD STAR Discovery Educator


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What is Project Based Learning?

Definition from the Autodesk Foundation

We believe that PBL is at the heart of good instruction because it brings together intellectual inquiry, rigorous
real-world standards, and student engagement in relevant and meaningful work. It is a comprehensive
instructional model in which project work is central to student understanding of the essential concepts and
principles of the disciplines. Well crafted projects:
• Engage and build on student interests and passions
• Provide a meaningful and authentic context for learning
• Immerse students in complex, real-world problems/ investigations without a predetermined solution
• Allow students to take the lead, making critical choices and decisions
• connect students with community resources and experts
• Require students to develop and demonstrate essential skills and knowledge
• Draw on multiple disciplines to solve problems and deepen understanding
• Build in opportunities for reflection and self-assessment
• Result in useful products that demonstrate what students have learned
• Culminate in exhibitions or presentations to an authentic audience


Characteristics of PBL

• Learning is student centered.
• Learning occurs in small student groups.
• Teachers are facilitators or guides
• Problems for the organizing focus and stimulus for learning.
• Problems are a vehicle for the development of clinical problem-solving skills.
• New information is acquired through self-directed learning.


Process of PBL

• Students confront a problem
• In groups, students organize prior knowledge and attempt to identify the nature of the problem.
• Students pose questions of what they do not understand.
• Students design a plan to solve the problem and identify the resources they need.
• Students begin to gather information as the work to solve the problem.


Objectives and Outcomes of PBL

• Problem-solving skills
• Self-directed learning skills
• Ability to find and use appropriate resources
• Critical thinking
• Measurable knowledge base
• Performance ability
• Social and ethical skills
• Self-sufficient and self-motivated
• Facility with computer
• Leadership skills
• Ability to work on a team
• Communication skills
• Proactive thinking
• Congruence with workplace skills


Resources for teachers
Project Based Learning

Higher Order Thinking Skills Resources