Examples of Project-Based Learning

Although projects are the primary vehicle for instruction in project-based learning, there are no commonly shared criteria for what constitutes an acceptable project. Projects vary greatly in the depth of the questions explored, the clarity of the learning goals, the content and structure of the activity, and guidance from the teacher. The role of projects in the overall curriculum is also open to interpretation. Projects can guide the entire curriculum (more common in charter or other alternative schools) or simply consist of a few hands-on activities. They might be multidisciplinary (more likely in elementary schools) or single-subject (commonly science and math). Some projects involve the whole class, while others are done in small groups or individually. For example, Perrault and Albert report the results of a PBL assignment in a college setting surrounding creating a communication campaign for the campus' sustainability office, finding that after project completion in small groups that the students had significantly more positive attitudes toward sustainability than prior to working on the project.

When PBL is used with 21st century tools/skills, students are expected to use technology in meaningful ways to help them investigate, collaborate, analyze, synthesize and present their learning. The term IPBL (Interdisciplinary PBL) has also been used to reflect a pedagogy where an emphasis on technology and/or an interdisciplinary approach has been included.

An example of a school that utilizes a project-based learning curriculum is Think Global School. In each country Think Global School visits, students select an interdisciplinary, project-based learning module designed to help them answer key questions about the world around them. These projects combine elements of global studies, the sciences, and literature, among other courses. Projects from past years have included recreating Homer's The Odyssey by sailing across Greece and exploring the locations and concepts central to the epic poem, and while in Kerala, India, students participated in a project-based learning module centered around blending their learning and travels into a mock business venture. The interdisciplinary project was designed to enable students to engage in the key areas of problem solving, decision making and communication -- all framed by the demanding parameters of a "Shark Tank", or "Dragon's Den" style competition.

Another example of applied PBL is Muscatine High School, located in Muscatine, Iowa. The school started the G2 (Global Generation Exponential Learning) which consists of middle and high school "Schools within Schools" that deliver the four core subject areas. At the high school level, activities may include making water purification systems, investigating service learning, or creating new bus routes. At the middle school level, activities may include researching trash statistics, documenting local history through interviews, or writing essays about a community scavenger hunt. Classes are designed to help diverse students become college and career ready after high school.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has provided funding to start holistic PBL schools across the United States. Notable funded organizations include,
EdVisions Schools
Envision Schools
New Tech Network
North Bay Academy of Communication and Design
Raisbeck Aviation High School
Another example is Manor New Technology High School, a public high school that since opening in 2007 is a 100 percent project-based instruction school. Students average 60 projects a year across subjects. It is reported that 98 percent of seniors graduate, 100 percent of the graduates are accepted to college, and fifty-six percent of them have been the first in their family to attend college.

The European Union has also providing funding for project-based learning projects within the Lifelong Learning Programme 2007-2013.

According to Terry Heick on his blog, Teach Thought, there are three types of project-based learning. The first is Challenge-Based Learning/Problem-Based Learning, the second is Place-Based Education, and the third is Activity-Based learning. Challenge-Based Learning is "an engaging multidisciplinary approach to teaching and learning that encourages students to leverage the technology they use in their daily lives to solve real-world problems through efforts in their homes, schools and communities." Place-based Education "immerses students in local heritage, cultures, landscapes, opportunities and experiences; uses these as a foundation for the study of language arts, mathematics, social studies, science and other subjects across the curriculum, and emphasizes learning through participation in service projects for the local school and/or community." Activity-Based Learning takes a kind of constructivist approach, the idea being students constructing their own meaning through hands-on activities, often with manipulatives and opportunities to. As a private school provider Nobel Education Network combines PBL with the International Baccalaureate as a central pillar of their strategy.