EDTECH 542 Discussion 1

I just began my Project Based Learning class (EDTECH 542), and wanted to put my first discussion post here as well so I have a way to reference it after the course has ended.  We were given the task of researching some basics about PBL and answering the questions from one of the following groups: 1-What is PBL?, 2-What considerations are important when incorporating a PBL approach?, or 3-What are the current and potential issues surrounding the use of PBL in traditional or nontraditional schools?  I chose group 1 and here were my thoughts:

From the reading I’ve done so far the best definition I have found for Project Based Learning is the one directly from the BIE website. They describe PBL as “a teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to a complex question, problem, or challenge”. I think by saying “students gain knowledge and skills” it distinguishes it from traditional learning methodologies which typically transmit knowledge from teacher to student. This is similar to Problem BL, which some consider to be a subset of Project BL (Larmer). According to Larmer there are several differences between the two PBLs including: Project Based Learning is often multidisciplinary instead of single subject, it may be longer than Problem BL, follows more general steps, includes the creation of a product or performance, and often involves real-world tasks instead of case studies or fictitious scenarios.

Especially with the implantation of the Common Core State Standards teachers are under a lot of pressure to meet new standards and keep students engaged. The typical direct instruction approach is not effective for the majority of today’s students, and with the increased emphasis on student-centered lessons and activities PBL fits the bill. Jan Schwartz listed some characteristics of PBL as constructivist, learner focused, geared toward real world tasks, teacher as coach/facilitator, students working collectively, and emphasis on authentic performance based assessment. These are all components of the ideal common core classroom and best practices for teaching today’s students.


Larmer, J. (2014, January 6). Project-based learning vs. problem-based learning vs. X-BL. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/pbl-vs-pbl-vs-xbl-john-larmer

Schwartz, Jan. (2011, June 26). Project based vs problem based learning. Retrieved from http://etcjournal.com/2011/06/26/project-based-vs-problem-based-learning/

What is project based learning (PBL)? (n.d.). Retrieved from http://bie.org/about/what_pbl

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