Wednesday, January 27, 2016

EDTECH 542- Initial discussions on PBL

This past week we were asked to research and answer three background questions on PBL and post our findings in the discussion forum.  Being a newcomer to PBL, I chose questions from the first block of questions which help define what exactly PBL is.  Specifically, these questions were;

  • Define Project Based Learning. Describe the difference between Project Based Learning and Problem Based Learning.
  • Why should teachers consider incorporating PBL in their classroom?
  • What are the essential components of a PBL approach to instruction?

This activity was extremely helpful as I really didn't have a clear picture of the scale of PBL activity. As I read and researched, I began to realize the potential value this pedagogy could be in my own classroom setting.  I am eager to pursue my first "project" as I think my students will be engaged learners.  I also take solice in the amount of research that supports the use of PBL.  

Below, you will find my post:

Although I think I have a good idea of what Project Based Learning is, I have never actually used  a project in true “official” PBL fashion. As such, I thought I would best be served in answering these Group 1 questions in case I have some misunderstandings towards this pedagogy.
Project Based Learning (PBL) is a recent approach to the age old teaching strategies such as learning by doing, authentic learning and critical thinking.  Specifically, PBL seeks to engage students in their learning by having them solve a real or authentic problem. In doing so, they will learn the desired outcomes with deeper and longer lasting learning than more traditional methods.  The Buck Institute for Education captures this notion well when they state “Project Based Learningis a teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to an engaging and complex question, problem, or challenge” (2016).
Deeper learning, increased student engagement, academic improvement, and the implementation of technology are all some of the many reasons teachers take on this approach to teaching and learning. Evidence shows that PBL allows for cross curricular competencies to develop as well as higher level skills such as critical thinking and problems solving to occur as well (Thomas, 2013).  This wide range of benefits for both students and teachers explains PBL’s growing popularity in the field of education.
Although having students work on projects is nothing new in education, to be considered a true PBL activity, certain criteria must be met.  According to Larmer, Mergendoller, & Boss (2015), a true PBL activity:
  • Begins with a challenging problem or question
  • Cannot simply be “googled” (Sustained Inquiry)
  • Is authentic and “real world”
  • Allows students to have a voice and choice during the planning of the project
  • Incorporates student ( and teacher)reflection on what has been learnt and how it has been learnt
  • Incorporates formative assessment through continual critique and revision
  • Has a end product that is made public

Buck Institute for Education. (2015). What is PBL? Project based learning. Retrieved January 10, 2016, from
Larmer, J., Mergendoller, J., & Boss, S. (2015 ). Gold standard PBL: Essential project design elements  [Web log post]. Retrieved from
Thomas, J. W. (2013). A review of research on project-based learning. Retrieved from