Beth Holland

Project-Based Learning Research Review

Project-based learning, also known as PBL, has been shown to provide a number of benefits when properly implemented, including an increase in the amount of information that is retained by students and an improvement in their attitudes toward learning. The PBL research review that can be found on Edutopia delves into the huge body of research that has been conducted on the subject and provides assistance in making sense of the findings.

What Is Project-Based Learning?

PBL derives from a school of thought in the field of education known as problem-based learning (PBL), which maintains that pupils learn best when they are given authentic challenges to solve. According to studies (Barron & Darling-Hammond, 2008; Thomas, 2000), PBL consists mostly of the following components:

students acquiring the knowledge necessary to address realistic problems in the same manner in which they would be solved in the real world, increased student control over his or her own learning, teachers acting as coaches and facilitators of inquiry and reflection, and students (typically, but not always) working in pairs or groups.
Problem-based learning addresses a problem but does not necessarily include a student project. Project-based learning, on the other hand, involves a complex task and some form of student presentation, and/or students creating an actual product or artefact. Teachers can create real-world problem-solving situations by designing questions and tasks that correspond to two different frameworks of inquiry-based teaching.

Students are encouraged to create, challenge, and revise their existing knowledge through the use of these inquiry-based teaching methods, which also help them develop abilities in critical thinking, cooperation, communication, reasoning, synthesis, and resilience (Barron & Darling-Hammond, 2008). These two approaches to inquiry-based education are somewhat distinct from one another; yet, for the sake of clarity, we will refer to both of them collectively as project-based learning, abbreviated PBL.

Learning Outcomes Studies that compare the learning outcomes of students taught through project-based learning to those taught through traditional instruction show that when properly implemented, PBL increases long-term retention of content, helps students perform as well as or better than traditional learners on high-stakes tests, improves problem-solving and collaboration skills, and improves students’ attitudes toward learning. [Citation needed] [Citation needed] [Citation needed] [Citation needed] [Citation needed] [Citation (Strobel & van Barneveld, 2009; Walker & Leary, 2009). PBL also has the potential to serve as an effective model for school-wide reform (National Clearinghouse for Comprehensive School Reform, 2004; Newmann & Wehlage, 1995).

According to the findings of a literature analysis conducted in 2016 by MDRC and Lucas Education Research, the design concepts that are most typically utilised in PBL correspond well with the aims of preparing students for deeper learning, higher-level thinking skills, and intra- and interpersonal skills (Condliffe et al., 2016).

Learning Outcomes

According to the findings of the research, there are various aspects that are essential to effective PBL (Barron & Darling-Hammond, 2008; Ertmer & Simons, 2005; Mergendoller & Thomas, 2005; Hung, 2008). In spite of the fact that project-based learning has in the past been criticised for not being rigorous enough, the following characteristics will significantly increase the likelihood that a project will be successful.

A challenge or project that is realistic, that is aligned with the talents and interests of the students, and that demands learning content and skills that are clearly described (e.g., using rubrics, or exemplars from local professionals and students).
Work in a structured group setting with groups of three to four students, with students having varying skill levels and interdependent roles; rewards for the team; and individual accountability based on student improvement.
Multiple learning outcomes, such as problem-solving, content, and cooperation; displays that stimulate involvement and signal social worth (e.g. exhibitions, portfolios, performances, reports).
Participation in a professional learning network, which may include working together with coworkers on PBL experiences in the classroom and reflecting on those experiences, as well as taking courses in inquiry-based teaching approaches.
In the following section, you will find a great deal more information regarding these four essential components, in addition to detailed instructions on how to put them into place step by step.