What is it?

Project-based instruction, often referred to as project-base learning, (not to be confused with problem-based learning - PBL) is an approach that provides students with the opportunity to learn and apply their knowledge though active analysis of real-world questions, problems or scenarios. With project-based instruction students are generally put into groups to collaborate and apply collective knowledge from various disciplines. This strategy provides a motiving factor for students by enabling them to see the potential of their solutions on actual real-world projects. The goal is to offer students a more in-depth and deeper learning experience than traditional lecture type strategies.

Three ...

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Project-based instruction, often referred to as project-base learning, (not to be confused with problem-based learning - PBL) is an approach that provides students with the opportunity to learn and apply their knowledge though active analysis of real-world questions, problems or scenarios. With project-based instruction students are generally put into groups to collaborate and apply collective knowledge from various disciplines. This strategy provides a motiving factor for students by enabling them to see the potential of their solutions on actual real-world projects. The goal is to offer students a more in-depth and deeper learning experience than traditional lecture type strategies.

Three factors of a project-based instruction activity can help promote deeper learning these are: Inter-disciplinary, rigorous and student-centred. The first inter-disciplinary is where students have the opportunity to engage in real world problems. Students are challenged to find solutions to assess issues requiring them to evaluate many different areas of academic research and information in order to successfully complete their project. The second, rigorous, involves students applying their academic learning to new situations or contexts. This form of inquiry based and active learning application engages students to seek a deeper understanding as they apply their solutions to their work. The third student–centred sees the teacher as the facilitator providing support where needed. Here students have more independence as they go through the project-based instruction process making decisions on the best way to attain the learning outcomes and goals of their respective projects.

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When to use it?

Context & Requirements

Level
All levels
Discipline
All disciplines
Class size
All class sizes
Classroom settings
No specific classroom setting required
Technological requirements
Dependent on the type of activity

Skills Promoted

  • Analytical skills
  • Critical thinking
  • Knowledge organization
  • Problem solving
  • Reflective reading
  • Teamwork

Who’s using it?

SALTISE community members who use this strategy and are willing to share advice and/or resources.

Level University
Institution Concordia University
Discipline Biology
Instructor Madoka Gray-Mistume
Class size Varies
Classroom setting Need access to online learning platform with Wiki LRI
Resources used View More
Level College
Institution Dawson College
Discipline English - Effective reading and writing
Instructor Catherine Payne
Class size 30-40
Classroom setting Traditional Classroom
Resources used View More

Why use it?

Student engagement and material retention can improve using project-based instruction. Students are more engaged during class, and their understanding of the course material is better overall. Using multiple classes to build students’ ability to do a project is helpful as it allows students to have both a clear goal for each class and to see how all of their knowledge can come together in a final project. It also allows them to clearly see the connections between the concepts being covered across classes within a course.

Group dynamics can be difficult to predict and some groups might not work well. If work on a project is over a number of classes some students may have difficulty catching up if they miss a class during the semester.

Ready to try it out?

Helpful resources

References

Barron, B. J., Schwartz, D. L., Vye, N. J., Moore, A., Petrosino, A., Zech, L., & Bransford, J. D. (1998). Doing with understanding: Lessons from research on problem-and project-based learningJournal of the learning sciences7(3-4), 271-311. 

Blumenfeld, P. C., Soloway, E., Marx, R. W., Krajcik, J. S., Guzdial, M., & Palincsar, A. (1991). Motivating project-based learning: Sustaining the doing, supporting the learningEducational psychologist26(3-4), 369-398.

Krajcik, J. S., & Blumenfeld, P. C. (2006). Project-based learning (pp. 317-34). Na.

Krajcik, J. S., Blumenfeld, P. C., Marx, R. W., & Soloway, E. (1994). A collaborative model for helping middle grade science teachers learn project-based instructionThe elementary school journal94(5), 483-497.

Marx, R. W., Blumenfeld, P. C., Krajcik, J. S., & Soloway, E. (1997). Enacting project-based scienceThe elementary school journal97(4), 341-358.

Mills, J. E., & Treagust, D. F. (2003). Engineering education—Is problem-based or project-based learning the answerAustralasian journal of engineering education3(2), 2-16.

Milner-Bolotin, M. (2001). The effects of topic choice in project-based instruction on undergraduate physical science students’ interest, ownership, and motivation. University of Texas at Austin. 

Prince, M. J., & Felder, R. M. (2006). Inductive teaching and learning methods: Definitions, comparisons, and research basesJournal of engineering education95(2), 123-138. 

Thomas, J. W. (2000). A review of research on project-based learning.

Video

Five Keys to Rigorous Project-Based Learning – Edutopia

Project-Based Learning – Khan School

Project Based Learning: Explained – Buck Institute for Education

Projects and Project-Based Learning: What’s The Difference? -Edutopia

To Learn More

For more ready resources go to Articles and Books