CELL at UIndy

Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning

What Does PBL Look Like?

What’s the “Big Idea”?

Messy. Chaotic. Loud. To the untrained eye, these might be the words to describe project-based learning. However, to PBL devotees, these words translate to “engaged, active, and collaborative learning.”

PBL transforms traditional classrooms into professional environments. Students work together to tackle relevant problems while learning subject-area content. These real-world activities, in which students get to practice authentic disciplines, make learning practical and meaningful.

PBL pairs subject knowledge with 21st-century skill development to prepare students for the world outside of the classroom. Throughout a project students plan, publish, and present. They inquire, research, evaluate, manage, and lead. They compare, communicate, collaborate, create, and critique. They give and receive feedback. They try new tools and teach others how to use them. They struggle, strive, and succeed. Ultimately, the cognitive demands of the project provide students with new experiences and skills that transform them into more competent, lifelong learners.

Gone are the days when students’ work immediately gets tossed into the trash at the end of class. With PBL, the projects aren’t throwaways, but rather activities that maintain students’ enthusiasm about learning long after the project ends.

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