Key Components of Project-Based Learning (PBL)

the seven characteristics of project-based learning

Project-based learning has certain defining characteristics, which, although they might vary slightly from one educational institution to another, remain consistent in essence. These seven characteristics include:

  1. More engaging and effective than traditional teacher-centered instruction
  2. Involves complex tasks around a central question, resulting in reflection, iteration, and creation of a final public product
  3. Surrounds core subject content, allowing students to build knowledge and develop skills like problem-solving, critical thinking, and collaboration
  4. Takes place in a student-centered learning environment
  5. Builds student choice into the process
  6. Develops students’ research and problem-solving skills, that allow for peer review and constructive criticism.
  7. Positively impacts students, specifically academic achievement, attendance, motivation, knowledge, and cognitive skill development

Buck Institute for Education, also known as PBLWorks, based on 15 years of literature review and distilled educational experience, identified seven essential elements of PBL that focus on project design. These elements, known collectively as “Gold Standard PBL,” are as follows:

  1. A challenging problem or question 
  2. Sustained inquiry 
  3. Authenticity 
  4. Student voice and choice 
  5. Reflection 
  6. Critique and revision 
  7. Public product

Here are a few related sections to check out:

Understanding Driving Questions

The importance of driving questions in PBL and how to formulate them

Authentic Tasks in PBL, Real-World Projects

The role and development of authentic tasks within PBL

Student Voice and Choice

How PBL promotes student choice and voice in the learning process

Reflection Revision and Public Presentation

The role of reflection, the importance of revision, and presenting findings in PBL

Project Topic Advisor GPT

This is our friendly guide for generating project topics, driving-questions and support materials.