throughout the year, and a training of trainers model to develop expertise organically (Luthra &
5. Students must have ongoing opportunities to present and interact with an authentic audience.
“Students present their work to other people, beyond their classmates and teacher – in person or
online. This “ups the stakes,” increasing students’ motivation to do high-quality work, and adds to the
authenticity of the project” (Buck Institute of Education).
6. Teachers must have access to:
Authentic multi-disciplinary assessments aligned with standards that check for content
knowledge, skills (including 21st century skills) and conceptual understanding.
Rubrics to give students “meaningful feedback and critique, so they can improve the
quality of their work” (Hallermann & Lamer 201; Bellanca 2010).
What is a project and what is not?
In the course of their inquiry, the PBL Task Force noted that an important aspect of practicing Project-Based Learning was working through preconceived notions about projects in school. In his review of
research on Project Based Learning, Thomas (2000) set out these essential elements of PBL projects to
clarify and define their structure. Project-Based Learning projects:
Are central, not peripheral to curriculum
The project is the central teaching strategy; students encounter and learn the central concepts
via the project.
Are focused on questions or problems that drive students to encounter and struggle with central
concepts and principles of a discipline
Central activities, questions, products or performances should be “orchestrated in the service of
an important intellectual purpose”.
Involve students in constructive investigation
Central activities of the project must involve construction of new understandings and acquisition
of new skills. If the central activities represent no difficulty to the child or can be carried out with
already learned skills, it’s not a PBL project.
PBL Projects do not end at a predetermined outcome or take predetermined paths.
Projects incorporate real-life challenges where the focus is on authentic (not simulated) problems
or questions and where solutions have the potential to be implemented (Thomas, 2000).
Using these elements, the task force set out to compare a typical project as it happens within a unit of
study when a PBL project is the unit.