CELL at UIndy

Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning

What is PBL?

Projects that Lead to Learning

Inquiry drives project-based learning, making the questions just as important as the answers. PBL is an instructional approach that presents students with complex, authentic problems or challenges. Through group collaboration and extensive periods of investigation, students develop solutions to real-world issues. PBL reflects the type of learning and work people engage in every day outside of the classroom. These learning activities help students develop 21st-century skills and the principles of a profession, such as historian, journalist, architect, or engineer. This type of authentic learning capitalizes on student interest, motivating them to engage and explore in new ideas while gaining academic knowledge.

PBL gives students the opportunity to work on problems and issues relevant to their lives. While PBL can incorporate traditional teaching tools like lectures, textbooks and conventional assessments, these come second to rigorous, relevant, hands-on learning. PBL demands that students research, synthesize data, manage their time, act creatively, thinking critically, and work collaboratively to address the driving question or challenge presented. Collectively, students reflect on new ideas and opinions, determine the direction of their learning, and make important decisions that affect educational outcomes.

PBL is standards-based; students learn content knowledge through real-world applications. Students are evaluated on what they learn as well as the skills they develop through the process. PBL uses authentic assessment in the form of a culminating project that is presented publicly for a real audience. This high-stakes evaluation gives students a sense of purpose and puts meaning behind their learning.

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