What is Project-Based Learning?

Project-based learning hails from a tradition of pedagogy which asserts that students learn best by experiencing and solving real-world problems. According to researchers (Barron & Darling-Hammond, 2008;Thomas, 2000), project-based learning essentially involves the following:

  • students learning knowledge to tackle realistic problems as they would be solved in the real world
  • increased student control over his or her learning
  • teachers serving as coaches and facilitators of inquiry and reflection
  • students (usually, but not always) working in pairs or groups

Teachers can create real-world problem-solving situations by designing questions and tasks that correspond to two different frameworks of inquiry-based teaching: Problem-based learning, which tackles a problem but doesn't necessarily include a student project, and project-based learning, which involves a complex task and some form of student presentation, and/or creating an actual product or artifact.

These inquiry-based teaching methods engage students in creating, questioning, and revising knowledge, while developing their skills in critical thinking, collaboration, communication, reasoning, synthesis, and resilience (Barron & Darling-Hammond, 2008). Although these methods of inquiry-based teaching differ slightly, for simplicity they're combined in these pages and referred to as project-based learning or PBL.

 "Project-Based Learning Research Review." Editorial. Eutopia n.d.: n. pag. Edutopia. Web. 13 Aug. 2013.


Some teachers are attempting a classroom model called "The Flipped Classroom." This essentially "flips" the idea of the classroom. The barebones explanation: Learning is done at home with videos/podcasts/digital media and homework/application is done during class time.