Tina Bianchi's Portfolio Page


Project-Based Learning across Contents

Link to my mini-course: Project-Based Learning across Contents


Project-Based Learning (PBL) involves the application of real-world experiences to demonstrate an understanding of subject matter as students connect new learning with prior knowledge and experiences. PBL engages students in ways to make learning meaningful and relevant. The purpose of this course is to familiarize educators with the essential components of PBL and to provide an opportunity to view models of PBL-type assessments as part of the process in creating usable, multidisciplinary projects for purposes of student assessment.

Needs Assessment

Part I: Summary of the Instructional Problem

  • The problem: With the implementation of Common Core State Standards and APPR, educators are constantly striving to find ways to differentiate instruction in ways that make learning more meaningful for diverse student populations while helping them to meet or exceed standards. Changes to curricula and teacher evaluation processes are placing high demands on both teachers and learners, and often times both groups are left wondering how these demands will be met. Project-Based Learning addresses both content and skill, while at the same time allowing for transference and a variety of learning styles.

  • Recent literature and a teacher survey were used to gather information about how to plan and deliver Project-Based instruction, as well as concerns and needs educators have with regards to implementing PBL in a variety of content areas.

Part II: Description of the Instructional Solution

The Ideal

  • Intent Statement: Educators will use the resources offered in this course to increase student engagement, provide opportunities for authentic tasks and assessments, increase transference, and improve both cognitive and social skills for students.

The Reality

  • About the Learners: Based on the results of the survey used to collect information about teacher perceptions of PBL, it has become apparent that educators need to realize how the method can enhance students' educational experiences without compromising the amount of content that needs to be covered.

  • Revised Intent Statement: This course seeks to close the gap between what educators assume about PBL and what they need to know about PBL in order to effectively implement it in any content area. It intends to increase the comfort level of educators by providing knowledge, models, and practice in using PBL in their own content areas while incorporating a multi-disciplinary approach to increase student engagement and occurrences of transference.

  • Instructional Resources and Content: This mini-course is divided into four units comprised of two lessons per unit. Lessons will include opportunities for participants to build on current knowledge, view models and examples, practice, and reflect.

Part III: Major Goals That Address the Problem

  • The Cognitive Outcomes: Participants in this course will develop strategies to engage students in the learning process. They will utilize resources to design learning activities that fit the PBL model and gain an understanding of PBL as a means of promoting inquiry, critical thinking, problem-solving, collaboration, and transference. Participants will acquire skills and abilities necessary to identify the elements of PBL and apply the approach to instructional materials that address content standards as well as elements of the "hidden" curriculum.

  • The Intellectual Outcomes: Participants in this course will realize ways in which the PBL model can enrich the teaching and learning process without infringing on precious class time; in fact, they will understand how longer-term pre-planning of PBL units can actually increase the amount of quality time spent coaching students in class.

Learning Outcomes

  • Differentiate between what Project-Based Learning is and what it isn't.
  • Identify the essential components of Project-Based Learning.
  • Create a usable, multi-disciplinary project using the essential components of Project-Based Learning.
  • Gain an appreciation for the implications of Project-Based Learning despite the investment of time required to design such assessments.

Curriculum Map

File:T. Bianchi Curriculum Map.pdf

References and Resources

Bell, S. (2010). Project-Based Learning for the 21st Century: Skills for the Future. Clearing House: A Journal of Educational Strategies, Issues, and Ideas, 39-43.

Cheng, R. W.-Y., Lam, S.-F., & Chan, J. C.-Y. (2008). When High Achievers and Low Achievers Work in the Same Group: The Roles of Group Heterogenity and Processes in Project-Based Learning. Educational Psychology, 205-222.

David, J. L. (2008, February). Project-Based Learning. Educational Leadership, pp. 80-82.

Grant, M. M. (2011). Learning, Beliefs, and Products: Students' Perspectives with Project-Based Learning. Interdisciplinary Journal of Project-Based Learning, 37-69.

Heitin, L. (2012, April 25). Project-Based Learning Helps At-Risk Students. Education Week, pp. 8-9.

Lam, S.-F., Cheng, R. W.-Y., & Ma, W. Y. (2009). Teacher and Student Intrinsic Motivation in Project-Based Learning. Instructional Science, 565-578.

Larmer, J., & Mergendoller, J. R. (2010, September). 7 Essentials for Project-Based Learning. Educational Leadership, pp. 34-37.

Lattimer, H., & Riordan, R. (2011). Project-Based Learning Engages Students in Meaningful Work. Middle School Journal, 18-23.

Mitchell, S., Foulger, T. S., Wetzel, K., & Rathkey, C. (2009). The Negotiated Project Approach: Project-Based Learning without Leaving the Standards Behind. Early Childhood Education Journal, 339-346.

Ravitz, J. (2010). Beyond Changing Culture in Small High Schools: Reform Models and Changing Instruction with Project-Based Learning. Peabody Journal of Education, 290-312.

Rogers, M. A., Cross, D. I., Gresalfi, M. S., Trauth-Nare, A. E., & Buck, G. A. (2011). First Year Implementation of a Project-Based Approach: The Need for Addressing Teachers' Orientations in the Era of Reform. International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 893-917.