In project based learning (PBL) students engage in purposeful, collaborative projects requiring critical thinking, creativity, and communication during the learning process rather than the traditional method of a project being completed at the end of a unit. Students are motivated by learning through authentic, creative, and shared experiences. Instruction is facilitated by teachers directing what students know and need to know to complete a problem. Through this process, project based learning gives students the opportunity to develop the real life skills required for success in today’s world.
In PBL, students are given an entry document that frames the project challenge which provides a pathway of expectations. To ensure content is being taught, state content standards are embedded in each project. Groups are assigned and students sign a contract where they agree to roles and responsibilities based on various skill and personality characteristics before starting their work. The facilitator plans scaffolding activities to help students master content and skills. Students request to participate in workshops that stem from important need to know information. In concluding a project, students demonstrate their ability to successfully apply the content and skills through a final presentation. Throughout the project, stakeholders, experts, business partners, parents, or community members can be involved for teaching, assessing, or providing feedback on students work. Students will end each project through deep reflection to improve on their knowledge, performance, and final product for the future. By making learning relevant to them in this way, student engagement reaches new heights.
New Tech Network schools also use Problem-based learning. PrBL is a form of inquiry-based instruction used primarily in Mathematics that places the students in several smaller Problem scenarios rather than a single, large Project scenario. Supported by NCTM and the NSF, much of what makes PBL so successful is present in a PrBL environment, including Entry Events, the Need-to-Know (NTK) process, and student-centered scaffolding