Thanks to Amy Mayer of FriEdTechnology for this fantastic comparison describing the key differences between “doing projects” and project-based learning! This, my friends, is exactly what I have been trying so ineptly to explain to educators at my own school. There’s a BIG difference, and one that completely changes how the classroom is run and what students take out of it.


17 thoughts on “What’s the Difference Between “Doing Projects” and “Project Based Learning”?

  1. Nice thinking. Thank you.

    I think we should go further with teacher roles and and assessment, as well as addressing collaboration.

    The teacher has a vital role during the project in providing feedback on progress throughout. The feedback focus is based on the expected outcomes provided in the rubric. The rubric is referred to constantly – teacher to class, teacher to student and student to student- so that there is a shared understanding of what is acceptable and what is excellent.

    Projects (or PBL if we prefer!) will be more successful when collaboration is not only encouraged but built in. Hattie’s Visible Learning meta-analysis is very strong on the benefits of students learning together as opposed to in isolation.

    1. Yes, absolutely – as it says on the bottom of this chart, Amy Mayer made this comparison and has approved it to be copied and used 🙂

  2. Absolutely fabulous! I would love more info on this topic. This made me reflect a lot about my own teaching. 🙂

  3. I will actually be doing a dissertation on how to use PBL to teach database. I think that the differences above can be used in my dissertation. Thanks Amy

  4. Thanks for the breakdown of differences between projects and PBL. That was very clear and helpful. However, can you point me to a place that is more descriptive about how to get a PBL class started and off the ground running? I think the resistance to providing a project example “from last year” can make it difficult for the teacher and student to know how to begin.

  5. I see a lot of contrived differences in your outline. Projects have always had an integral place in education, as have blackboards. However, switching to whiteboards shouldn’t be heralded as some kind of revolution. PBL is simply systemizing the age-old school project. I find the self back-slapping of PBL disingenuous. Teachers get enough flack from other disciplines for self-congratulatory ticker parades already.

  6. Pingback: Meghan McKinney

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