Learning Strategies

What is Project-Based Learning?

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Project-based learning (or PBL) is exactly what it sounds like: working on a project to complete a task or gain mastery of a concept.

In the classroom, it looks something like this: Teachers assign a task or problem - an explicit goal - and students work together to provide a solution. When using PBL in the classroom, teachers act more as facilitators than directors, letting groups choose their own methods and use their own ideas. The idea is that the project becomes the main executor of the curriculum; in order to complete it, students employ principles from all subject areas, teaching themselves and learning as they go.

Why choose project-based learning?

  • Students take ownership.

    When students are tasked with a problem and given space to solve it in their own way, they take ownership of their learning. Rather than being handed a worksheet to reinforce a lesson they were just taught, they are able to work together using their own ideas and methods. When able to work in an environment that invites creative thinking and contribution, students take pride in their knowledge.

  • Students learn collaboration and other real-life skills.

    Since one of the main tenants of PBL is group work, it cannot be done alone. Learning to work together is an inherent outcome - and collaboration strengthens students’ social - emotional and communication skills. PBL also encourages students to use what resources they have, be it technology, makerspace equipment or books and the Internet. These skills are valued in the work force and help prepare students for life after school.

  • Incorporation of entire curriculum.

    Rather than learning each subject in a silo, project work encourages exploration of multiple subjects. Tasks are designed in such a way that a broad knowledge is necessary for completion. In addition to comprehension of individual subjects, students gain an understanding of the relationship among them and an appreciation of the ways they all fit together.

How can I design a classroom that supports project-based learning?

A classroom that supports project-based learning has furniture and equipment designed to make collaboration a cinch.

Group learning desks do just that. Available in a range of collaborative shapes like bow-tie, trapezoid and boomerang, group learning desks can be pushed together or pulled apart for group work. Optional locking casters make it even easier for students to rearrange the desks to their liking.

Consider collaborative desks with whiteboard tops. Whiteboard desks not only help eliminate the need for paper but encourage impromptu notetaking and brainstorming right on the tabletop.

For projects that require the use of tools or makerspace equipment, durable workbenches are ideal. Most are large enough to accommodate multiple students and feature heavy-duty steel frames and durable wood tops. Choose workbenches with built-in storage to keep supplies close at hand.

Seating that is easy to maneuver makes group work easier, too. Try mobile school chairs or even wobble stools, which allow students to rock, sway and wiggle without disrupting others.

For even more ideas on how you can outfit a classroom that supports PBL, check out our collection of proven project-based learning room designs.

Have questions? We’re here to help! Our experts are available by phone at 1-800-260-2776. You can also get personalized assistance through our or by emailing us. We’re available Monday-Friday, 8am-7pm.


"Why Project Based Learning (PBL)?" Buck Institute for Education. Web. http://www.bie.org/about/why_pbl

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