Education stakeholders agree that project-based learning (PBL) is a powerful instructional tool that helps students create connections between the classroom and the real world. While the value of PBL goes without question, differentiating between fun, hands-on learning activities and engaging, robust academic content that drives student achievement can sometimes prove challenging. This is why PMIEF and the Buck Institute for Education (BIE) have partnered for High-Quality Project-Based Learning (HQPBL), a multi-year initiative that probes what characterizes exemplary PBL.
Founded in 1987, BIE is the preeminent global thought leader in PBL thanks to its in-demand services and products that support student success worldwide. BIE strengthens primary and secondary school education by helping administrators, teachers, schools, and districts adopt and implement PBL by building their capacity through professional development and instructional resources. The organization helps educators learn how best to design and to facilitate high-quality PBL that prepares all students for academic, professional and personal achievement.
While educators’ appreciation for PBL continues to flourish, no consensus-driven, universal description of PBL currently exists to guide those most committed to it. This barrier is what prompted PMIEF to award a US$ 450,000 grant to BIE in 2016, particularly because high-quality PBL must include project management to ensure its rigor and efficacy. PMIEF recognizes the importance of helping students learn through projects that allow them to practically apply textbook knowledge, but the foundation also realizes that students must learn how to manage those projects effectively and efficiently. The grant ensures project management will be integral to what will become a global framework for high-quality PBL.
BIE engaged a steering committee of national and international leaders and experts in PBL to spearhead the design of the HQPBL framework in January 2017 during a two-day convening in Sausalito, California, USA. The organization has since launched a dedicated HQPBL website based on the first draft of the framework and is currently soliciting feedback on the framework from a nearly 100-person advisory committee that will ultimately help disseminate and promote it. Both committees include representatives from organizations that previously received PMIEF grants to integrate project management into their programming given their shared commitment to the foundation’s mission.
Education Week, the preeminent U.S. newspaper for all K-12 topics, highlighted HQPBL in a September 2016 blog post that Getting Smart, BIE’s partner for this work, features on its website. Getting Smart has also posted several articles in support of this initiative, including the podcast, “10 Leaders on High-Quality PBL: Doing It Well at Scale.” In addition, BIE recently showcased this PMIEF-funded initiative at the 2017 Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) and Deeper Learning annual meetings. The organization will present the final framework in 2018 once it is ready for dissemination and it will also develop a series of interview-based case studies that explore how teachers apply the framework to their instructional practice.
The HQPBL steering committee ideated what makes for high-quality PBL during its January 2017 meeting in Sausalito, California, USA.