What are the essential elements of project-based learning?

Hello colleagues, Engaging learners in projects is a powerful approach to teaching and learning that often cuts across content areas. The essential elements of what Kristen Kamps (2017) calls a Gold Standard Project include the following: 

  • Key Knowledge & Success Skills
  • Challenging Problem or Question
  • Student Voice & Choice
  • Authenticity
  • Sustained Inquiry
  • Reflection
  • Critique & Revision
  • Public Product

However, Kamps writes in the blog, Promoting a PBL Mindset, that PBL does not have to be all or nothing. In other words, aspects of these essential elements can be integrated into many instructional activities, even when we don't have time to engage learners in a Gold Standard Project.

Reading this was encouraging to me! I want to find more ways to include student voice and choice as well as ensure that the tasks learners engage in are authentic. I also want to design instruction to engage students in building knowledge and skills as well as seeking answers to challenging problems and questions. Taking up inquiries that are sustained over time is incredibly valuable.

For those who are interested, here's a LINCS resource with some PBL ideas for integrating technology into instruction.

It would be great to hear what projects teachers are engaging learners in this spring. You are also invited to share your ideas about ways to promote a PBL mindset.

Cheers, Susan Finn Miller

Moderator, Teaching & Learning CoP