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Updated: June, 2018
The Autodesk Foundation deserves credit for bringing
Project-Based Learning (PBL) to the attention of educators across the country
during the 1990s. Founded by Joe Oakey,
former Commissioner of Education in Vermont and Micronesia and former manager
of Autodesk, Inc.’s Education Department, the Foundation spread the word
nationally about Project-Based Learning from 1992 until its close in 2000.
The Foundation supported schools and practitioners through the Tinkertech
network, and the Project-Based Learning Network, and through the annual
Kids Who Know and Do conference. Read more.
This page highlights PBL resources to help you in your efforts to create great learning opportunities for kids.
February, 2021: Lucas Education Research releases 4 new studies demonstrating the powerful efficacy of PBL in all student learning
Buck Institute for Education releases new set of
PBL Project Videos at PBL World, June, 2018
April, 2018: Outstanding High Quality PBL Framework created by leading PBL organizations and educators worldwide. Also see the BIE Gold Standard PBL Framework.
January, 2018: Updated listing of the best Online Project Libraries in the US and the UK
January 22, 2017: Two new papers on PBL Math by Jo Boaler. Longitudinal study shows PBL approach in Math impacts adult lives.
November 4, 2016: Does PBL hold back poor pupils in the UK?
September 24, 2016: PBL in Chile. Aprendizaje Basado en Projectos (ABP) en Chile.
August 12, 2016: Elementary Math PBL: "Take Me On Vacation"! By Alyssa Mentz, Washington Discovery Academy, Plymouth, Indiana. See Project.
May 9, 2016: Mount Vernon Presbyterian School's (Atlanta, GA) Focus for Summer+ Learning 2016-17 - Project-Based Learning. See also The Mount Vernon Continuum infographic and The MVPS I.Design Lab.
March 19, 2016: Best PBL Videos. Includes the outstanding series from edutopia and the best videos from PBL schools on their teaching and learning pedagogy and processes.
Featured PBL Video -- July 2014:
Also see each of the Five
Keys to Rigorous Project-Based Learning Videos
at Edutopia (Real-World Connections, Rigorous Projects, Collaboration,
Facilitating Learning, and Assessment). See other PBL videos here
and at BIE.
III. PBL Archival Pages
Lucas Education Research releases 4 new studies demonstrating the powerful efficacy of PBL in all student learning, February, 2021
Condliffe, B., Quint, J., Visher, M.G., Bangser, M. R., Drohojowska, S. Saco, L., and Nelson, E. (2017). Project Based Learning: A Literature Review, 1-78. New York, NY: MDRC. This review primarily includes studies published from 2015 to 2017 focused on PBL implementation and its effects on student outcomes.
Project-Based Learning Research Review, By Vanessa Vega, Edutopia, December 3, 2012
and Achievement in Problem-Based and Inquiry Learning: A Response to Kirschner,
Sweller, and Clark (2006), by Cindy E. Hmelo-Silver, Ravit Golan Duncan,
and Clark A. Chinn, Department of Educational Psychology, Rutgers University,
EDUCATIONAL PSYCHOLOGIST, 42(2), 99107. This article is a response
to Paul A. Kirschner , John Sweller & Richard E. Clark (2006) Why
Minimal Guidance During Instruction Does Not Work: An Analysis of the
Failure of Constructivist, Discovery, Problem-Based, Experiential, and
Inquiry-Based Teaching, Educational Psychologist, 41:2, 75-86. Kirschner,
Sweller & Clark reprised this critique in the AFT American Educator,
Spring, 2012, Putting
Students on the Path to Learning : The Case for Fully Guided Instruction.
Summers, E. J., & Dickinson, G. (2012). A longitudinal investigation of project based instruction and student achievement in high school social studies. The Interdisciplinary Journal of Problem-based Learning, 6(1), 82-103.
Dickinson, G., & Summers, E. J. (2010). (Re)Anchored video centered engagement: The transferability of preservice training to practice. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 10(1).
Challenge 2000 Multimedia Project. The final evaluation of this award-winning project yielded a significant finding when PBL students were tested on authentic projects in comparison to a control group. See also Penuel, William & Means, Barbara & Simkins, Michael. (2000). The multimedia challenge. Educational leadership: journal of the Department of Supervision and Curriculum Development, N.E.A. 58.
A REVIEW OF RESEARCH ON PROJECT-BASED
LEARNING (PDF) By John W. Thomas, Ph. D, March, 2000
This review, commissioned by the Autodesk Foundation in its final year (2000), examines research related to a teaching and learning model popularly referred to as "Project-Based Learning" (PBL). All of the research on Project-Based Learning has taken place in the past ten years and most of it in just the last few years. Since there is not a large body of PBL research, the review is inclusive rather than selective.
The review covers eight topics:
- A definition of Project-Based Learning,
- Underpinnings of PBL research and practice,
- Evaluative research: research on the effectiveness of PBL,
- The role of student characteristics in PBL,
- Implementation research: challenges associated with enacting PBL,
- Intervention research: research on improving the effectiveness of PBL,
- Conclusions, and
- Future directions for PBL research.
Updated: January, 2018
Real Projects, Innovation Unit, UK
The Buck Institute of Education's Project Search is the best source on the web for project exemplars. It includes projects from numerous PBL sources including ConnectEd, Envision Schools, Expeditionary Learning, High Tech High, West Virginia DOE, and others. Here is a listing of other strong resources for online project libraries:
Buck Institute of Education:
BIE's Project Libraries Resource Page (Archive Page) -- Links to online project libraries from the best PBL sources.
Knights of Knowledge (2013) -- PBL Pioneers David Thornburg, Norma Thornburg, and Sara Armstrong have produced a terrific set of video-based inquiry starters across the curriculum, what some of us call video entry documents for project-based learning.
Real Projects, Innovation Unit, UK
EL is the contractor to NY State for its Common Core Curriculum for grades 3-5 and 6-8. See the www.engageny.org website.
West Virginia Department of Education's PBL Resources
PBL website from OCM BOCES features PBL Resources, Tools, Rubrics, Research, Videos, and more
2019-2020: Blue Apple Teacher PBL Projects from the Van Andel Institute
BIE's Gold Standard PBL Framework
- Gold Standard PBL: Essential Project Design Elements, April, 2015
- Gold Standard PBL: Project Based Teaching Practices
- Book: Setting the Standard for Project Based Learning
March, 2018 -- The Framework for High Quality Project Based Learning is based on the accumulated experience, wisdom, and research of hundreds of educators who have graciously shared their ideas and critique. It describes six criteria, each of which must be at least minimally present in a project in order for it to be judged "high quality." The presence of a criterion, however, is only a beginning. Each criterion can be judged in turn as to the quality of its implementation. Projects that are the most memorable, and that have the greatest impact on student learning and development, will be those with the highest quality implementation of each criterion. The Framework for High Quality Project Based Learning is intended to stimulate reflection and conversation about ways that projects can be improved and deepened.
With support from the Project Management Institute Educational Foundation
and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Buck Institute for Education
facilitated the development of the Framework for HQPBL. The development
of the Framework took twelve months and was a highly collaborative and iterative
- High Quality Project Based Learning website
- High Quality Project Based Learning Framework (PDF)
- Steering Committee; Advisory Committee; Partners
- How #HQPBL Came to Be, by John Larmer, March 30, 2018
- Case Studies and Stories:
- Katherine Smith, San Jose, California (Coming soon). Also see Bob's web profile of Ksmithschool.
- Energy Institute, Houston, Texas (Coming soon)
- Liceo Pablo Neruda (Arica, Chile)
- The Met (Providence, Rhode Island)
- Albemarle County Public Schools (Charlottesville, Virginia). Also see Bob's web profile of ACPS.
- School 21 (London, England). Also see Bob's web profile of School 21.
- ACE Leadership Albuquerque, New Mexico)
- Thrive Public Schools (San Diego, California)
I am the moderator of a national email group of PBL leaders and practitioners. To join, fill in the box above or send a blank email to PBLnetfirstname.lastname@example.org or go to the web site at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/PBLnet/. Note from Bob, August, 2016: This group still exists but has been largely superseded by Twitter and Facebook.
- Posted June, 2018: Bob Pearlman's reflections on the origins of PBL in the US in the 1990s can be read in the 2015 Case Study, A Case History of CART and Project-Based Learning, By Bruce Cuthbertson and Sean O'Halloren, The IngenioMind Project, 2015. This case study examines the educational policy context in which the an innovative High School program, the Center for Advanced Research and Technology (CART) in Fresno, CA, arose in the late 1990s.
- July 1, 2016: Getting Smart's It's a Project-Based World Blog Series; Is it a Project or an Activity? Project-Based Learning and its Cousins by By Tom Vander Ark and Bonnie Lathram, June 24, 2016; 3 Elements of Deeper Project-Based Learning by By Loretta Goodwin, June 8, 2016; 5 Myths of Project-Based Learning Dissected and Debunked by Andrew Larson, June 25, 2016
- January 6, 2016: Learning Centers in the Secondary Classroom, by Ted Malefyt, edutopia.
- December 2, 2015: How to Make Sure That Project-based Learning is Applied Well in Schools, By Thom Markham, MindShift/KQED News. See more re Thom Markham here.
- November 19, 2015: Are We Getting Smarter about Ed Tech?, by Suzie Boss, edutopia blog shows role of pedagogy, particularly PBL, in leveraging technology for learning
- October 6, 2015: Never Send a Human to do a Machines Job: Correcting the Top 5 Edtech Mistakes, by Yong Zhao, Washington Post, October 6. 2015. Also see new book of same name here by Yong Zhao, Gaoming Zhang, Jing Lei and Wei Qiu. .
- Articles by Bob Pearlman on technology, PBL, and learning.
- January 29, 2016: New PBL website from OCM BOCES features PBL Resources, Tools, Rubrics, Research, Videos, and more
- Resource List: Assessment in PBL from BIE
- New Book by James Bellanca: Enriched Learning Projects: A Practical Pathway to 21st Century Skills and Foreword by Bob Pearlman
- "25 Tools,
Technologies, and Best Practices for PBL",
by Dan Page, THE Journal, March 2006
- Bob Pearlman on Project-Based Learning: Text of video interview by the George Lucas Educational Foundation.
- The Main Course, Not Dessert: How Are Students Reaching 21st Century Goals? With 21st Century Project Based Learning byJohn Larmer and John R. Mergendoller, Buck Institute for Education, 2010
- Project-Based Learning vs. Problem-Based Learning vs. X-BL, By John Larmer, Editor in Chief at the Buck Institute for Education, Edutopia Blog, January 6, 2014
- Best PBL Videos
- Best PBL Feature Film — October Sky
- Remembering Dennis Selness, PBL Colleague and Friend
- Joe Oakey's PBL Odyssey
- Archive Autodesk Foundation Website (Internet Archive)
- PBL Math
This page includes the outstanding series from edutopia and the best videos from PBL schools on their teaching and learning pedagogy and processes.
Psychological Imprisonment or Intellectual Freedom? A Longitudinal Study of Contrasting School Mathematics Approaches and Their Impact on Adults Lives, by Jo Boaler and Sarah Kate Selling. Shorter version of the paper that appears in the scientific journal: Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 2017, 48 (1), 78-105.
Why Math Education in the U.S. Doesn't Add Up, By Jo Boaler and Pablo Zoido, Scientific American, November 1, 2016. Research shows that an emphasis on memorization, rote procedures and speed impairs learning and achievement.
Boaler, J. (2016). Mathematical Mindsets. Unleashing Students' Potential Through Creative Math, Inspiring Messages and Innovative Teaching. Wiley Press. Forward by Carol Dweck.
Boaler, J. (2009) What's Math Got To Do With It? How Parents and Teachers Can Help Children Learn to Love Their Least Favorite Subject. Penguin: New York.
Boaler, J. (2010). The Elephant in the Classroom: Helping Children Learn and Love Maths. Souvenir Press: London. UK Edition of What's Math Got To Do With It.
for the Moment, Or the Millennium?, By Jo Boaler, March 31, 1999.
Stanford Professors Jo Boaler's math studies in England are an example
of the new research on PBL.
"How to Organize a Design Project for Your Class.". Students take on the task of designing a state-of-the-art high school.
Math Skills to a Real-World Problem (Video): Students in Eeva Reeder's
geometry class design schools for 2050
Students Angle into Architecture Through Project Learning: When learning
is based on projects, math becomes relevant as well as rigorous, by Sara
Geoff Krall is a PBL Math teacher since 2007 and has been a Math Coach for the New Tech Network (NTN) for several years. Geoff is a significant blogger on Math learning and teaching practice on his blog, Emergent Math.
Earlier this week after the release of a new research study in the UK by the Education Endowment Fund (EEF), the Times Education Supplement (tes) reported "Exclusive: Project-based learning holds back poor pupils". The study evaluated schools involved in the Real Projects initiative of the Innnovation Unit, the leading organization promoting PBL in the UK. This set off a flurry of social media attacking PBL by the education minister and traditional school advocates. PBL advocates then responded that the study did not make that conclusion, and the authors of the study actually stated that this finding was inconclusive. Check out the debate through these documents:
These are pages I created when I launched this website circa 2002. It captures the best PBL resources available on the Internet at that time and should be a valuable resource for PBL history buffs. Some of these links are now inactive, but you can resurrect these resources through the Internet Archive (the Wayback Machine). - Bob, June 2014
See PBL curriculum and student work at Schools I Like such as Sir Francis Drake High School, Brookside Elementary School, San Jose Middle School, Mendocino, the North Coast Rural Challenge Network, and Napa New Technology High School.
Several schools host School-Based Institutes (SBIs), where visitors can learn about and see PBL in action. In the current year 2002, unfortunately, only Napa New Technology High School has scheduled an SBI.
Eight years after the World Wide Web was born and thousands of great student projects created and exhibited, can anyone see this great student work, or see it in a coherent and organized fashion? Unfortunately too few schools and organizations have captured this work on the WWW and made it available to their own publics and to the wider national and international publics. The Great Student Work web page is my attempt to share with you some of the best student work that you can see on the web. With your help this can be continually updated.
Autodesk Foundation, continued: While project-based learning rests on many antecedent practices, much of the practice in the 1990’s broke new ground by establishing real-world context, adult connections, student exhibitions and worldwide publication via the WWW, and authentic assessment. I had the pleasure of leading the Foundation after Joe retired in 1996. Working with a great team that included Elizabeth Share, Judy Morgan, Sanna Randolph, Laurette Rogers, Ross Kleinberg, Eric Skjei, Dan Trimble, and Dana Erickson, our small band served as the network organizer for PBL in the 1990s. Fortunately others have now taken up the torch, including the George Lucas Educational Foundation and the Buck Institute of Education (BIE).