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  • Writer's pictureRafia Shabbir

6 Steps To Implement Project-Based Learning In The Classroom

Updated: Sep 5

Project Based Learning - A Definition

Project-based learning is a student-centered pedagogy used in the classrooms in which students acquire in-depth knowledge and skills by solving real-world challenges.

This pedagogical approach can be called as inquiry-based learning or learning by doing because it supports deep learning by engaging students in hands-on learning activities. For educators, it is one of the most effective teaching methods and for students, no method of learning offers more benefits in terms of active learning than the PBL approach.

PBL does not engage students in a project for an hour or a day, but it entails active participation for a longer period to build meaningful products or find an answer to a complex question. However, it doesn’t imply that no schedule is followed in PBL, because it may stretch from a week to a whole semester.

Project-based learning helps students to learn how to work in teams and encourages them to use their creative, problem solving and critical thinking skills to come up with innovative solutions and products for real life audience.

You might be wondering how to implement the PBL approach in the classroom. Well, we have you all figured out in the next section of this article.

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6 Steps to Implement PBL in Classroom

The six steps of project-based learning are shown in the following flow chart and explained below in this section of the article.

Read our article: Using Bloom's Taxonomy to Design Effective Project Based Learning Activities

Six steps of project based learning
Flow chart explaining six steps of project based learning in the class room

1) Identification of a Problem or an Opportunity

This is the leading step in project-based learning. Teachers or students identify a problem or an opportunity from their surroundings that requires meticulous work and demands a resolution. This problem can be related to the curriculum and may be affecting the school, community, city or a country.

Read our article: Using Bloom's Taxonomy to Design Effective Project Based Learning Activities

This is an inquiry-based step that requires great attention to detail and group work because the learning goals of students will be based on the precise mapping of the driving problem statement. Brainstorming and bloom’s taxonomy will assist you in this step to formulate the driving question.

2) Project Planning

The next step is to design a learning plan for the project which means that the teachers assess how the problem or opportunity connects with the standards he/she is intending to teach. The best approach is to involve the students in this process so that they can feel included.

Select the project path which corresponds to the syllabus or curriculum. It is better to integrate multiple subjects for enhanced student engagement and dynamic learning. Make sure that the learning resources and content are at the students’ disposal while they are working on the project. A teacher should be prepared to provide deep content knowledge to the students because the project can move in any direction and students may require a deeper understanding of the concepts to reach a viable conclusion.

3) Schedule

This is the third step of the PBL which involves setting a timeline and schedule for the project activities. Students should be given a set date or time frame in which they had to present their final project work. However, to realize the benefits of the whole process, be prepared to be flexible in your schedule. Set the schedule by working collaboratively with students.

Read our article: Using Bloom's Taxonomy to Design Effective Project Based Learning Activities

4) Monitor the Progress

In PBL, a teacher is engaged in the process right from the beginning to the end. Teachers should incessantly monitor student work and progress. The role of the teacher in PBL is that of a facilitator who strives to make the learning experiences worthwhile for the students.

5) Assessment

This is the fifth step of the PBL, and it involves assessing the learning outcomes and participation of students. Teachers can use a rubric to record students’ progress and their learning outcomes.

Rubrics allow teachers to grade student learning against certain standards and give effective feedback to the individual student at the end of the project. The assessment helps students in enhancing their skills and thus increases their confidence. Besides teachers, experts and the audience can also be consulted to give feedback.

Read our article: Using Bloom's Taxonomy to Design Effective Project Based Learning Activities

6) Evaluate the Experience

This is the last step in PBL which involves reflecting what worked and what didn’t during the whole process. Reflection helps teachers to improve their instructional strategies in the future. Teachers are also able to incorporate changes in their teaching strategies.

8 Differences Between a Course Project and PBL

We all have done projects during our academic life in colleges and universities. So, you might be thinking that PBL is like doing a project. But it’s not the case as both are fundamentally different. Some differences between the projects and PBL are explained below:

1. The main difference between the project and project-based learning is that projects are components of the course and they are not intended to teach students the content of the course. Rather students are expected to use their content knowledge that they acquired during the course to do a project. On the other hand, in project-based learning, the main intention is to transfer content knowledge through projects.

Read our article: Using Bloom's Taxonomy to Design Effective Project Based Learning Activities

2. The audience of the project is the class fellows of students or their school, while PBL is intended for the real-world audience.

3. Projects are submitted to the teacher for grades, whereas projects done under PBL are published for real-world audiences.

4. Projects can be done at home or in school, whereas PBL emphasizes collaborative learning, teamwork and communication.

5. The teacher is involved in projects after the project has ended. In PBL, the teacher is involved right from the beginning to the end.

6. The project follows the teacher’s guidelines, whereas PBL is based on real-world challenges and questions.

7. While doing projects, the student’s mindset is of a student who is completing his/her coursework. On the other hand, during project-based learning student assumes a greater responsibility which is beyond the school setting because he/she is solving the real-world challenges.

8. The projects are closed-ended, i.e. they have the same outcome. On the other hand, the PBL is open-ended which means its outcome is not pre-determined, and students can adopt any research path to come up with a conclusion. They may even surprise their teacher by inventing or discovering a new path, model or product.

10 Benefits of Project Based Learning

Project-based learning is gaining momentum worldwide as more and more educators are taking interest to incorporate this approach in their classroom because of the numerous benefits it offers to the students. We have narrowed down the following 8 benefits of project-based learning.

Read our article: Using Bloom's Taxonomy to Design Effective Project Based Learning Activities

  1. PBL emphasizes teamwork and effective collaboration between the team members working on the projects. When students work cohesively as a unit to solve a real-world problem, their interpersonal and communication skills are enhanced.

  2. PBL supports problem-based learning and helps students to think critically. Consequently, it unleashes and polishes the problem-solving skills of the students. Since students are working on problems that affect the real-world audience, their 21st-century skills like critical thinking and problem-solving are significantly enhanced.

  3. PBL is an activity-based approach that supplements higher order thinking skills among students.

  4. Project based learning facilitates deep learning of the students. Learning through textbooks and other resources in a traditional classroom is a trivial concept now.

  5. PBL instills self-confidence in the students. Students engage in the learning process and voice their opinions during the phases of PBL. When the student voice and choice are valued, his/her self-confidence is enhanced.

  6. PBL leads to enhanced student engagement. When students are gaining knowledge practically, their natural curiosity and interest in the subject matter increase. As a result, we see a greater student achievement in academic which can be measured through variables such as higher attendance in the classroom, increased interest and improvement in grades

  7. Students gain a deeper understanding of the technological tools which help them to achieve their intended learning objectives.

  8. PBL enhances the decision-making skills of the students because they had to take critical decisions during the course of projects regarding the research path and tools which should be used to reach an effective outcome.

  9. We know that every individual is unique and has his/her own strengths and weaknesses. PBL helps teachers to judge the students’ abilities, strengths, and weaknesses which are often overlooked in the other assessment methodologies.

  10. Students learn valuable lessons in PBL for a lifetime. In other words, PBL supplements the lifelong learning of the students.

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