Top 9 PBL News Stories

August 22-26, 2016


Each Friday we post a list of our favorite articles, blog posts, and other resources we’ve run across that relate to Project Based Learning.

Here’s what we liked this week:

Preparing Students for a Project-Based World
Getting Smart
In this new paper released jointly by Getting Smart and the Buck Institute for Education, Bonnie Lathram, Tom Vander Ark and Bob Lenz advocate for PBL as the best way to prepare students for entering today’s growing “gig economy.” It’s accompanied by a nicely designed two-page color “Student Quick Start Guide” to learning in a Project-Based World.

Project-Based Learning With an Equity Lens
Education Week
BIE’s Bob Lenz makes the case for PBL as tool for equity and calls for access to PBL for all students, especially those furthest from educational opportunity.

The Future of the University in the New Economy
Huffington Post
This post argues for new and different post-secondary education along the lines of PBL and design thinking, given the changes in our economy and the need for a better-prepared workforce.

Flying High
The Economist
Another article (which I missed when it appeared in June) about PBL-oriented changes in higher education, termed “the rise of the challenge-driven university” by Geoff Mulgan of Nesta, a British think tank, who says there are dozens of examples from Chile to China. (We posted two blogs about PBL in higher education in the U.S. recently, one saying there’s hope and one saying it’s slow going.)

Schools have no choice but to personalize learning
International Society for Technology in Education
Nancy Weinstein explains how ISTE’s 2016 Standards for Students’ definition of the “Empowered Learner” blends personalization, technology, and good pedagogy such as PBL. She argues for the need to better engage today’s media-consuming students, citing a Gallup study that stated a “lack of experiential and project-based learning pathways for students” as one of three primary sources of failure.

The Innovation Experiment: How Do We Know These New Learning Models Work?
Jeff Heyck-Williams, director of curriculum and instruction for Two Rivers Public Charter School in Washington D.C., explains how his school developed its own measures which showed that PBL improved students’ skills in schema development, metacognition, reasoning, problem-solving, and creativity & innovation. Great work!

Establishing Adult Connections through Authentic Projects
Miss Cleveringa blog
In this post from Australia, an English teacher at Parramatta Marist High School (which has hosted a BIE PBL World conference) describes “one of the proudest moments in my teaching career so far” – a project about the Holocaust. This is an amazing project and it’s really well documented, with videos, student work samples, and details about literary connections, and reflections on PBL.

Traditional vs. Project-Based Learning: The Effects on Student Performance and Motivation in Honors Level Mathematics Courses
Liberty University
This study by a doctoral candidate of 11-12th grade honors math students at a high school in New Jersey found that PBL improved student achievement on a traditional test of content knowledge, compared to students receiving traditional instruction. Interestingly, it found no difference in student motivation – which the author conjectures is due to the fact that math students at this level already  “possessed a greater desire to learn and succeed.”

Project: The Flint Water Crisis
Northern Rift
I don’t usually tout for-profit companies’ products in this blog, but this one’s exceptional; it’s a project in which students can make a difference in a real-world problem. It’s designed to build 21st century skills and is aligned with Next Gen Science Standards and Common Core.


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