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Defining Project Based Learning

Project Based Learning  ~By Dr. Cheryl Holmes


What is Project Based Learning?

By Definition Project Based Learning (PBL) is:

  • An Instructional Method that:
    • Centers on a learning challenge in which
      • Learner is placed in the role of constructing/making knowledge and sharing what they construct with those within their learning environment for the purpose of
        • ALL in the learning environment using what is learned within real life experiences
      • :Learners gather and process information,
      • Learners draw conclusions and,
      • Learners recommend solutions to problems and or issues of real-life significance
  • Learning takes place in:
    • Small groups and,
    • Independently
  • Each Learner is responsible for making choices about how:
      • Information will be gathered, communicated and,
      • Processed
  • PBL is an interdisciplinary learning experience that:
    • Places Learner in the position of experiencing
      • Natural pursuit of a Learning Challenge that
      • Often facilitates skills development in more than one subject area/curriculum

By Definition PBL is an Instruction Method that:

  • Assumes ALL Learners are able to construct knowledge
    • Places the Learner in the role of:
      • Investigator for the purpose of constructing knowledge
  • Learning Facilitator uses
    • Open ended Questions and or
    • Open Ended Challenges requiring:
      • Learner’s use of Scientific Method for the purpose of constructing knowledge


  • PBL places the Learner in the role of
    • “Key decision maker in his or her own learning.”

What is the Learning Facilitator’s role in PBL?

  • Careful design of interdisciplinary learning teams
  • Careful design of units and lessons placing Learner in the role of:
    • Investigator and crafter of constructed knowledge
  • Careful design of interdisciplinary teams that ensure
      • Systematic improvement of Learner’s performance across all core curriculums
  • Carefully designs information gathering and processing activities that:
      • Accommodates the four main learning styles associated with Myers-Briggs Type Inventory and
      • Gardner’s eight multiple intelligences

Why is PBL described and identified as an interdisciplinary learning experience?

  • Through PBL Learner’s experience
    • Natural pursuit of a Learning Challenge which
      • Facilitates skills development in more than one subject area/curriculum

Are there PBL Research Based Best Practice Methods?

Project Based Learning Outcomes

  • Learner engages in natural integration of basic skills
  • Learner exhibits greater motivation because they are tasked with construction of knowledge
  • Learner’s ability to both retain and effectively share constructed knowledge is typically enhanced and sustained
  • Learning Facilitator is placed in the role of “Instructional MUSE”
    • Models best practice methods for constructing and sharing knowledge
    • Encourages Learner to take full ownership of what they learn and how they communicate what they learn




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