Project-Based Learning

Aug 25, 2015 11:00:00 AM Jessica Beidelman Teaching and Learning

This is the fourth installment of a series highlighting top innovations in teaching methodologies.

Read Part I - Inquiry-Based Learning 

Read Part II - Adaptive Learning

Read Part III - Interest-Based Learning

Innovative schools are implementing a wide range of curricula in order to complement the classroom technology and school infrastructure that promote student academic achievement. Innovative teaching methodologies rely upon quality teaching and pedagogy in order to lead to improved student outcomes.

What is Project-Based Learning?

Project-based learning is a dynamic classroom approach in which students actively explore real-world problems and challenges to acquire a deeper knowledge. Project-based learning is a teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to a complex question, problem or challenge.

Impact on Student Learning 

  • Because project-based learning mirrors real-world situations, it can provide stronger and more relevant preparation for college and work.
  • Students in project-based learning classes performed better on assessments of content knowledge. Research also reported that project-based learning had a positive effect on specific groups of students; students with average to low verbal ability and students with little previous content knowledge learned more in PBL classes than in traditional classes
  • One study of PBL showed a positive effect on low-ability students, who increased their use of critical-thinking skills including synthesizing, evaluating, predicting, and reflecting by 446% while high-ability students improved by 76%.
  • PBL has been shown to benefit a variety of students in developing collaborative skills.

Examples of Use 

  • Because project-based learning depends on independent research as well as peer collaboration, online tools are used to support implementation. While students are on campus at Da Vinci Innovation Academy, they receive a combination of project-based learning and learning in a blended station-rotation model. Students are learning online for at least 60 percent of the school week; students are learning remotely and entirely through online delivery of content and curriculum. The school is fully committed to project-based learning so when the teachers are putting their students through a blended station-rotation model, students are engaged in project-based learning.


  • Project-based learning relies upon the integration of content areas and skills, therefore requiring changes to the curriculum.

  • Project-based learning can be inexpensive, relying upon traditional modes of projects, replicated at scale or can be more costly, using technology in order to promote collaboration and teamwork across the disciplines.