Project-Based Instruction: Creating Excitement for Learners

This booklet provides an introduction to project-based instruction. It explains the research-based rationale for using the approach and outlines how the approach can increase students' engagement and knowledge retention. The booklet offers guidelines for planning and implementing projects, and includes a checklist of important things to keep in mind when developing appropriate projects. Assessment considerations are addressed; potential pitfalls and ways to avoid them are discussed.

Author: Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory

Year: 2002


Keeping children engaged and motivated in school is challenging, even for the most experienced teachers. Although it is difficult to prescribe a "one-size-fits-all" approach, research shows that there are practices that will generally encourage students to be more engaged. These practices include moving away from rote learning and memorization to providing more challenging, complex work; having an interdisciplinary, rather than departmentalized focus; and encouraging cooperative learning (Anderman & Midgley, 1998; Lumsden, 1994). Project-based instruction incorporates these principles.

Using projects as part of the curriculum is certainly not a new concept; teachers often incorporate projects into their lesson plans. Project-based instruction is different: It is a holistic instructional strategy rather than an add-on. Project- based work is an important part of the learning process. This approach is becoming even more meaningful in today's society as teachers increasingly teach groups of children who have different learning styles, cultural and ethnic backgrounds, and ability levels. The so-called cookie-cutter approach to learning does not help all kids achieve high standards. Project-based instruction builds on children's individual strengths, and allows them to explore their interests in the framework of a defined curriculum.


Tags for this entry:
engagement, meaningful learning, individualized learning, project-based instruction

Related Resources:


Every Student a Citizen: Creating the Democratic Self

The Brooklyn Free School

How To Return Them To School?