What is Project-Based Learning?

10 principles to engage and boost students’ learning.

David Weller

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What is project-based learning (or PBL)?

It’s a teaching method where students gain knowledge and skills by investigating and responding to real-world problems or challenges.

Students actively engage in their learning instead of sitting back and trying to absorb information passively. They’re not just learning facts; they’re learning how to think, solve problems, and apply their knowledge.

The Principles of Project-Based Learning

So, you may wonder, what’s at the heart of project-based learning (PBL)? What are PBL core components? PBL isn’t just about letting students loose on a project and hoping for the best.

There are 10 key principles of PBL.

  1. Authenticity: Projects should be meaningful and relevant to students’ lives, cultures, or societal issues. They should reflect the complexity of the real world as much as possible, and help students connect to the content.
  2. Student-Centred Approach: Students are at the centre of the learning process. They take ownership of their learning, decide how they work, and have a say in the direction of their project. While you as the teacher set the parameters, they should plenty of choices to make.
  3. Collaborative Work: PBL often involves students working in groups or teams. Collaboration helps students develop interpersonal skills, learn how to navigate group dynamics, and exchange views.
  4. Inquiry-Based: The project must involve inquiry, exploration, and investigation. Students should engage in research, ask questions, and use critical thinking skills.
  5. Integrative: The projects should ideally integrate various subject or topic areas, instead of being confined to one. A great one would use several aspects of the target language being learned.
  6. Reflection: Students should reflect on what they are learning, the problems they are solving, the process of their work, and their collaboration with others. This helps to deepen learning and improve future performance.
  7. Use of Technology: Projects often involve the use of technology…

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David Weller

Lessons, stories and visuals to develop your language teaching and learning. 20 years in education, 3 books, and a twice-monthly newsletter.