Project-based learning time – introduction

Project-based learning (PBL) time looks different every day, in every classroom, for every student.

What will my students be doing in project-based learning time?

There is no single or simple answer to this question. It is important to recognise that, in addition to designated PBL time, learning that informs the project also happens through explicit teaching in different curriculum areas. Essentially, PBL time includes the learning in any curriculum area where you are addressing relevant content, acquiring new skills, discovering something new, and exploring the possibilities. Supporting students in making connections between their learning in different curriculum areas and identifying how this learning can be applied to solving problems and answering questions in PBL is an incredibly powerful experience for students.

During PBL time, teachers should be supporting students in making connections between their learning and how to reason, communicate, and problem solve in the scope of their project and the real-world. PBL time utilises a wide range of strategies and activities to excite students and empower them to be courageous, innovative, and inquisitive. For example, in a PBL project where Year 8 students were answering the driving question, 'How can we raise community awareness of the importance of our local lagoon?' students worked on their PBL in both English and science. When working towards English outcomes, students surveyed the local community about their perceptions of the lagoon, spoke with local Aboriginal elders about the significance of the site, pitched ideas about how to address this issue to local council, and composed a range of different texts for a public audience including a picture book, films, songs and more. In science, they interviewed environmental scientists, tested the water and soil, conducted scientific observations of the flora and fauna, investigated the biodiversity of the area and worked with local council to develop new approaches to solving the issue of pollution.

Allocated PBL time might involve a range of different activities such as:

  • independent research
  • gathering information
  • interviewing key stakeholders or community members
  • consulting with an expert
  • using technology to connect with stakeholders or experts beyond the classroom
  • designing experiments
  • sharing ideas and collaborating
  • ideating, prototyping and testing designs and products
  • reflecting on findings
  • critically analysing results
  • preparing to present findings or products to judges or an audience
  • evaluating and refining work
  • soliciting advice and feedback.

Regularly revisiting the driving question, need to knows and the culminating event will help to keep students focused and on task during PBL time.

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