What's Wrong with Project Learning? | Edutopia
Edutopia on Facebook
Edutopia on Twitter
Edutopia on Google+
Edutopia on Pinterest Follow Me on Pinterest
WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

What's Wrong with Project Learning?

What's Wrong with Project Learning?

Related Tags: Project-Based Learning
More Related Discussions
44 1623 Views
I'm not a teacher but, as a teaching/learning method, PBL seems like a no-brainer to me. Since it's not universally accepted and deployed, what are the downsides that I'm missing?

This post was created by a member of Edutopia's community. If you have your own #eduawesome tips, strategies, and ideas for improving education, share them with us.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Share

Comments (44)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

Alice Mercer's picture
Alice Mercer
Elementary Computer Lab Teacher

Why, oh why does PBL fail, when so many studies tell us it's a good idea, and it more closely reflects how work is done among grownups in our jobs?

Early discouragement: Many teachers will try this, but give up shortly after starting. The class may get out of control, or kids may slack off, or something just "bad" happens. The best way to fight this?
- Teach kids explicitly the rules and expectations in their groups
- Spend time observing in the early stages, but don't settle all conflicts, instead direct student in how to resolve it themselves.
- Speak to others doing PBL at your site and/or online
- Reflect on what's going on, think about how to improve it
- Do not let one bad day or some bad days at the start get in the way

Teachers feel like more learning sticks if it is presented to students explicitly by someone who knows what they are talking about, ignoring that even though your delivery maybe "clear", what students hear may not be.

I think this post about independent work time, which has similar management issues to running a PBL classroom, illustrates how and why some teachers will avoid doing this.

Malaika Costello-Dougherty's picture
Malaika Costello-Dougherty
Former senior editor at Edutopia.

Hi Alice,

I'm really interested in reading the studies that back up PBL. Please let me know if you have any suggestions.

I agree that PBL just seems too hard for some teachers at first glance. They have to give up some control over the classroom, and it's hard to do something unconventional when tests are looming.

It's great to get practical tips like the type you've provided.



Alice Mercer's picture
Alice Mercer
Elementary Computer Lab Teacher

Can you give me until the weekend? We had a some in a recent grant application.

Sign in to comment. Not a member? Register.