Remarkable Chatter

Recalibrating Project-Based Learning (Better Learning For Schools #33)

In education, just because everyone claims to be doing something similar doesn’t ensure that they are doing it well…or the even the same.   Project-PBL-Gold_standardbased learning, or PBL, continues to gain momentum in schools and districts across the country as a means of ameliorating student engagement, retention of content, and students’ attitudes toward learning (Holm, 2011).

But as John Mergendoller recently wrote……popularity can bring problems. …If done well, PBL yields great results. But if PBL is not done well, two problems are likely to arise. First, we will see a lot of assignments and activities that are labeled as “projects” but which are not rigorous PBL, and student learning will suffer. Or, we will see projects backfire on underprepared teachers and result in wasted time, frustration, and failure to understand the possibilities of PBL. Then PBL runs the risk of becoming another one of yesterday’s educational fads – vaguely remembered and rarely practiced.

I was fortunate to have a conversation recently with John Larmer of the Buck Institute for Education regarding the potentially problematic, wide-spread adaption of PBL. In this podcast, John shares several tips to help classrooms ensure that teacher efforts are calibrated to a ‘golden-standard.’ He also offers his thoughts on the role of technology in helping (or hindering) project-based learning.

Holm, M. (2011). PROJECT-BASED INSTRUCTION: A Review of the Literature on Effectiveness in Prekindergarten through 12th Grade Classrooms. InSight: Rivier Academic Journal7(2).

Larmer, J., Mergendoller, J. R., & Boss, S. (2015). Setting the standard for project based learning: A proven approach to rigorous classroom instruction.

Curtis Chandler can be contacted at:


Leave a Reply