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Project based learning: Teaching and learning with values

Imagine a classroom buzzing with excitement, where students are fully engaged, collaborating, and creatively solving problems. This is the magic of Project-Based Learning (PBL). PBL is an educational approach where students actively explore real-world problems and challenges, gaining deeper knowledge and skills along the way. According to the European Council, PBL should be student-centered, interdisciplinary, and foster critical thinking, collaboration, and communication skills.

By integrating PBL into your teaching methods, you can transform your classroom into a dynamic learning environment. It not only makes teaching easier and more enjoyable but also turns learning into a fun and engaging adventure for your students.

PBL has been successfully implemented in various educational settings, showing remarkable results. For instance, a project called ” Saving the Southern Resident Killer Whales” engaged students in researching about marine mammals and how their life contributes to a healthy cean, culminating in a community presentation to raise awareness. Another example, “Taking 3 for the sea” had students understand the impact of plastic pollution on ocean’s life integrating subjects like science, humanities, and social studies culminating in community action.

Scientific studies back the effectiveness of PBL. Research from the Buck Institute for Education shows that PBL students outperform their peers in traditional settings in terms of academic achievement, retention of knowledge, and development of critical thinking skills.

As teachers, we understand the challenges you face – from keeping students motivated to managing diverse learning needs. PBL can be your solution. It shifts the focus from rote memorization to active learning, addressing students’ varying interests and abilities. By giving students ownership of their learning, PBL reduces behavioral issues and increases engagement.

Implementing PBL in your classroom can be a rewarding journey. Start by identifying a core theme or real-world problem that resonates with your students. For example, if your students are passionate about environmental issues, you can design a project around sustainability.

Next, set clear, achievable goals and create a project timeline. Break the project into manageable tasks and encourage students to take responsibility for different aspects of the project. Incorporate opportunities for students to reflect on their progress and make adjustments as needed.

Incorporate students’ values by encouraging them to choose topics that matter to them. This personal connection to the project will drive their motivation and commitment. For instance, if your students value community service, design a project that addresses a local issue, like organizing a community garden or a recycling program.

Students’ values play a crucial role in their engagement with PBL. When projects align with what they care about, students are more likely to invest time and effort. This alignment not only keeps them engaged but also helps them develop a sense of purpose and responsibility.

Moreover, PBL helps students grow their values. Working on real-world problems fosters empathy, teamwork, and ethical reasoning. For instance, a project on social justice can deepen students’ understanding of fairness and equity, while a project on renewable energy can instill a sense of environmental stewardship.

By integrating values into PBL, you help students become well-rounded individuals who are not only academically proficient but also socially and ethically aware.

Project-Based Learning, combined with students’ values, is a powerful tool for shaping future-ready adults. It nurtures critical thinking, collaboration, and communication skills, preparing students for the complexities of adult life. As teachers, adopting PBL can make your teaching more effective and enjoyable, while providing your students with a meaningful and engaging learning experience.

Embrace the transformative power of PBL in your classroom. Encourage your students to explore, create, and solve problems that matter to them. By doing so, you will inspire a lifelong love of learning and help shape a better future.


European Council. “Key Competences for Lifelong Learning.” 2018.

Buck Institute for Education. “Research on Project-Based Learning.” bie.org.

Edutopia. “Project-Based Learning Research Review.” edutopia.org.

Larmer, John, and John Mergendoller. “Gold Standard PBL: Essential Project Design Elements.” Buck Institute for Education, 2015.

Thomas, John W. “A Review of Research on Project-Based Learning.” Autodesk Foundation, 2000.

Author: Giuseppe Perrotti – JUMP Trainer