Culminating events

What is a culminating event?

Project-based learning (PBL) projects typically end with a 'culminating event’ or a presentation of learning.

Some examples of a culminating event include students:

  • running a sports day for local preschools
  • publishing a cookbook
  • running a canteen
  • presented an app they developed
  • presenting their ideas for improving a local playground to representatives from the local council
  • organising a Remembrance Day event for local veterans and their families.

Why have a culminating event and an authentic audience?

Presenting to a 'real' audience adds authenticity to the project. It helps motivates students and guides their project plan and timeline.

What are the key elements of the culminating event?

While different models of PBL may have different expectations for the culminating event, most PBL models have common features:

  • an authentic audience, for example, if students are designing machines to collect renewable energy, their audience might be experts in the field (such as scientists, planners, engineers etc.) or representatives from related corporations interested in buying their product or ideas.
  • sharing of work, for example, posters, videos, speeches – or running an event such as a sports day.

Who decides what the culminating event will be?

The nature of the culminating event will depend on the students. While the students might be able to determine how they will present their learning or what the event might look like, an agreed set of guidelines and expectations within which everyone is working will help students work towards the intended learning outcomes, and assist teachers to assess student learning fairly.

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