Project Based Learning

Project Based Learning (PBL)


What It Is

“Project Based Learning is a teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to an authentic, engaging, and complex question, problem, or challenge” (PBLWorks). These projects ideally involve investigation of a real-world problem requiring learners to think critically and collaboratively to develop creative solutions.


Why It Matters

Project-based learning (PBL) allows learners to apply new knowledge to real-world problems while developing important transferable skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, collaboration, and communication. PBL can help engage learners who may not be motivated by traditional lecture-based instruction and prioritizes preparing learners for the types of challenges they will encounter in the workforce.


Apply it

Developed by PBL Works from the Buck Institute for Education, the seven essential elements of a successful project-based learning experience are outlined below: 

  • – Challenging problem or question
    • – The project engages an appropriately challenging real-world or complex issue. 
  • – Sustained inquiry
    • – Learners develop questions to direct their project and compile resources on the topic to apply to their proposed solution.
  • – Authenticity
    • – The project requires students to engage with real-world issues that may be particularly meaningful to them 
  • – Student voice and choice
    • – Much of the project is self-directed and gives plenty of room for student creativity
  • – Reflection
    • – Students reflect on the quality of their work, challenges in the process, and how the project has helped foster learning
  • – Critique and revision
    • – Students provide feedback to each other and use it to improve their projects
  • – Public product
    • – Students share their knowledge through presentation of their project in the classroom and beyond




Buck Institute for Education. (n.d.). Gold standard PBL: Essential project design elements. PBLWorks.

Buck Institute for Education. (n.d.). What is PBL? PBLWorks.

Kokotsaki, Dimitra, et al. Project-Based Learning: A Review of the literature. Improving Schools, 19(3).


Cite This Resource

Studio for Teaching & Learning Innovation. (2023, February). Project-based learning (PBL) [Teaching resource].

Updated 2/2023