Project-based learning (PBL) is hands-on and is a type of inquiry-based learning. As the PBLworks website states, PBL is “a teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to an authentic, engaging, and complex question, problem, or challenge.”
With PBL, students work on a project for an extended time (such as over a full semester), and during this process, they identify a problem, create a solution, build a prototype of their solution, and then refine their solution based on research, collaboration with classmates, and guidance from teachers and experts in the field. Ideally, students’ solutions are available to the public, such as through presenting their findings at a community event.
However, PBL is different from having students complete a project at the end of a learning unit. An ending project gives a student a chance to demonstrate that they have mastered the skills that a teacher has taught them. In this way, the project acts as a learning check. Instead, with PBL, the project is the learning unit itself. Teachers, parents, and Learning Coaches provide guidance and resources as students work on their PBL projects, but the focus of the learning is on students’ interactions with their projects.
Students can work on their PBL ideas individually, but working in groups may further help students learn how to collaborate and communicate with others.