Project Based Learning (PBL)

Explore and respond

"Through project based learning students explore and respond to a complex question, problem or challenge over an extended period of time (typically 6 weeks)."

What are the key principles of this approach to the curriculum?

Through project based learning students explore and respond to a complex question, problem or challenge over an extended period of time (typically 6 weeks). In PBL the students are active learners considering relevant and real projects that develop their individual curiosity and result in the production of a high quality product at the end of a project.

Writing in 2011 Markham stated: "PBL integrates knowing and doing. Students learn knowledge and elements of the core curriculum, but also apply what they know to solve authentic problems and produce results that matter. PBL students take advantage of digital tools to produce high quality, collaborative products. PBL refocuses education on the student, not the curriculum--a shift mandated by the global world, which rewards intangible assets such as drive, passion, creativity, empathy, and resiliency. These cannot be taught out of a textbook, but must be activated through experience."

What are the main benefits of this approach?

Stanley Park High used the project based learning approach to underpin their unique Excellent Futures Curriculum (EFC).

They define their projects as REAL: Rigorous, Engaging, Authentic and Learning.

Rigorous: At the heart of each project is a question, challenge or problem. Students are given time to consider this essential problem and assessed regularly throughout the project, this gives the learner many opportunities to reflect upon and improve their work.

Engaging: The projects have a relevance to the real world and results in creating an authentic product. For example one year 7 project resulted in students producing a hardback book exploring the Middle Ages.

Authentic: At the end of each project students present or share their work with an audience.  This could take the form of an exhibit. The present of an audience give the projects a meaningful sense of purpose and concrete deadlines.

Learning: The learning agenda is driven by the essential question. The extended time given to each project facilitates substantial time for rigorous formative assessment and critical reflection. This enables the students to achieve outcomes of the highest quality.

What does this mean in practice?

Instead of studying many separate subjects students have a number Project lessons which explore geography, history, business studies, drama, religious studies, ICT and many other subject areas. English, Maths, Science, PE, and languages are often delivered as separate subjects in addition to the projects.

Lessons are active with a wider variety of learning activities.

What does this mean for teachers?

Teachers delivering projects will be able to provide learning experiences that cover a wide range of skills and subjects. Each project should be timetabled for a significant proportion of the timetable, in year 7 at Stanley Park High EFC is given 12 hours per week.

Teachers have plenty of assessment time built into each project, enabling students to benefit from high quality feedback.

At Stanley Park High teachers work together, from across a range of subject backgrounds, to devise and plan projects. They also train and support each other when delivering new subject content.

How can I find out more?