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Project Based Learning Defined

Project Based Learning Defined

Author: Jody Waltman

In this lesson, you will analyze the theories and application of project based learning

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In this tutorial, we'll discuss the definition and the components of Project Based Learning. We'll begin with a brief overview of the theory behind Project Based Learning. Then we'll compare the concepts of Project Based Learning and Problem Based Learning. And finally, we'll identify the specific elements of Project Based Learning. Let's get started.

A lot of well-known figures in the world of education have played roles in the theory behind Project Based Learning. It began with Jean Piaget's Constructivism. Piaget believed that learners internalize or construct knowledge from the activities that they engage in during regular instruction.

A model called Discovery Education was based on this idea, followed by the Inquiry Based model. This Constructivist idea was expanded upon by DuFour, DuFour, Eaker and Many, with the Learning by Doing concept. This group is perhaps best known for connecting these ideas to the professional learning community movement.

Additional leaders in the Constructivist, or Project Based Learning theory, include Vytgosky, Montessori and Bruner. Finally, the phrase "project learning" is accredited to Dewey and Kilpatrick, who first used the term way back in 1918.

With some big names in education behind this theory, it's clear that Project Based Learning is worth exploring. Unfortunately, Project Based Learning shares an acronym with another popular idea in education, Problem Based Learning. So there's potential here for confusion.

It's worth noting that both of these concepts originated with the same theory, but they have gone in different directions. So let's identify the elements of Project Based Learning that will help us to understand it as a separate idea from Problem Based Learning.

First, Project Based Learning focuses on authentic applications of skills in order to answer open ended questions. There's a distinct emphasis on 21st century skills and inquiry. Project Based Learning involves multi-disciplinary, multi-step tasks that are often longer and more integrated than traditional assignments. And this is key. Project Based Learning includes a performance or the creation of a product.

In this tutorial, we identified some of the key names in the development of Project Based Learning theory. We then noted that there is potential for confusion between Project Based Learning and Problem Based Learning.

So to aid in our understanding, we identified the key elements of Project Based Learning, notably that project. based Learning includes a performance or the creation of a product as the culmination of a learning task that is longer and more integrated than traditional tasks or assignments and that focuses on the authentic application of 21st century skills and curricular competencies.

For more information on how to apply what you learned in this video, please view the Additional Resources section that accompanies this video presentation. The Additional Resources section includes hyperlinks useful for applications of the course material, including a brief description of each resource.

Thanks for watching. Have a great day.

Notes on "Project Based Learning Defined"

(00:00 - 00:23) Introduction

(00:24 - 01:22) PBL Theory

(01:23 - 01:47) Project Based Learning vs Problem Based Learning

(01:48 - 02:23) Elements of PBL

(02:24 - 02:59) Review

(03:00 - 03:19) Stop and Reflect

Additional Resources

Project-Based and Problem-Based: The same or different?

This page provides a comprehensive explanation of the similarities and differences between Project Based Learning and Problem Based Learning. This is a helpful resource as there are subtle differences between these two approaches that share the same acronym.

The Buck Institute 

This is a comprehensive website dedicated to Project Based Learning including resources and examples. The landing page of this site provides an overview of project based learning. By clicking on your role, you will find additional readings and resources to support you with implementation and/or understanding of Project Based Learning.

Project Based Learning Checklists

These are checklists for teachers to use as they design project based lessons. By clicking on your grade level and teaching area, you will have access to a Rubistar form that will help you build your project based lesson and measurement tool.