Developing the project experience

Student voice and choice is fundamental to project-based learning (PBL). It is important, however, that before introducing it to students, the teacher has a sense of the purpose for the PBL, the potential product and audience.

How do I design project-based learning?

Teachers need to ensure that PBL matches curriculum content and students will have sufficient opportunities to address significant content over the course of the PBL.

Taking the time to design PBL has a significant impact on how engaging and effective the PBL is for students. It is essential that teachers have:

  • a realistic sense of what is required for the end product to be impactful and successful
  • that they are able to clearly convey these expectations to students
  • that they can discuss with students the value of the process itself.

There are a number of important things to consider when designing a project, including:

  • finding inspiration for the PBL to make it engaging, relevant and meaningful
  • curriculum content and standards are covered
  • defining a clear driving question
  • how the PBL connects to students' real-world experience
  • possible experts, audience, judges to be contacted
  • the entry event
  • possible outputs and products students will develop
  • a realistic timeline
  • assessment points and activities before, during and after the PBL.

Further reading and resources

Gold Standard PBL: Essential project design elements Buck Institute for Education

An Introduction to Design Thinking Process Guide (PDF 1.86MB) Institute of Design at Stanford

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