Muskegon Christian School

What is Project Based Learning?

What Do Students Learn with PBL?

A Project Based Learning project should result in beautiful work that is characterized by complexity, craftsmanship and authenticity.  Our teachers have been trained in strategies to support students in creating beautiful work.

The basic steps of a typical PBL project would include:

  • Launch - The teacher defines (often with input from students) an engaging, challenging problem or question for students to investigate.
  • Investigation - Students learn the knowledge and skills needed to address the problem or question.  The teacher provides resources and lessons.  The students may talk with experts from outside the classroom.
  • Creation - Students develop their solution to the problem or answer to the question.  They often creat a physical object, a display, s media project or an event. 
  • Demonstration - Students share their work publicily with people beyond their classroom.

PBL projects can be designed and managed so that they meet the needs of the students and teach any subject.  Many projects will combine more than one subject, because many real-life problems and issues are complex.  Each project will have a checklist of features (a rubric) describing the success criteria, and teachers will plan lessons that teach skills and content needed to complete the project.

Key to PBL is the goal that the students will assume responsibility for their own learning and can assess themselves on the checklist at different points in the process.  The students are also engaged with critique from others.  Our teachers instruct them as to how to give feedback that is kind, specific and helpful.  Students then have time to revise their draft based on the feedback.

"Austin's Butterfly" is a great example of the goals of students critique and revision in the PBL model. 

After receiving feedback and producing a final draft, students will demonstrate their mastery by presenting to an audience beyond their classroom.  Knowing that work will be presented to an audience creates a care about quality and more opportunities for engaging the work as they share their knowledge.