What Is Project-Based Learning (PBL)? Your 2024 Getting Started Guide


Albert Einstein once said, ‘I never teach my pupils; I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn.’ and that forms the very core of project-based learning. Practice and actual implementation are at the heart of this approach.

Project-based learning involves active participation from individuals. They learn by actually interacting and engaging with the project. This type of learning bears more fruitful results for the individual as well as the company.

In this article, we will give you a comprehensive overview of What is project-based learning, what are its benefits, challenges, etc. Let’s jump straight in!

What Is Project Based Learning?


What is project based learning? Let’s look at PBL meaning. Project-based learning (PBL) is defined as a methodology in which learners are actively engaged in the work process. They learn and acquire skills through active involvement and gain experience. Their active engagement in the project leads to more competent thinking, better management skills, enhanced problem-solving skills, and much more.

Project-based learning is employed in different educational dimensions as well as in project management. Buck Institute of Learning defines it as:

“Project-Based Learning is a teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to an authentic, engaging, and complex question, problem, or challenge”.

In project management, the methodology works in the same way, helping individuals improve their learning outcomes with hands-on experience. The project methodology works well for individuals as well as teams.

In the forthcoming paragraphs, we will take a look at the benefits of this method, best practices, and challenges you might face, especially with respect to project management.

What Are the Benefits of Project Based Learning in Project Management?

Traditional modes of learning have proved to be less efficient than practical approaches that actually engage learners. PBL (Project Based Learning), in a similar manner, is a new approach to learning. The technique has produced fruitful results over the course of its time.

1. Active Engagement

One of the things that hinder our progress and are a threat to our creative ability is that we are not actively engaged in the things we learn, PBL, in opposition, works to remove this barrier that stands between the learner and the goals he wishes to achieve. From the very get-go, it arms the individual with the necessary skills and slowly but gradually takes him ahead, toward improvement.

2. Changes in Attitude

Traditional modes of learning are less efficient and uninteresting for the learners. The usual ways of teaching often lead to no practical knowledge of the subject matter and students gradually lose their interest in it as well. PBL learning, in contrast, is an efficient way of maintaining learners’ interest and changing their attitude towards learning itself.

3. Better Results

Since students get hands-on experience with the project, they are better skilled at finding solutions to different problems and are much quicker and more efficient at handling different aspects of a project. The practical experience ultimately helps when they have to actually implement the knowledge they gathered previously. Their past experience helps them make better decisions and produces better results than ever before.

4. Encourages Communication

Whether it’s an individual or a team, PBL helps by encouraging communication and collaboration. If individuals are brought together to form teams and they are then given projects to work on, then there are chances that they will be able to work on their communication skills. Also, it encourages team building and helps team members form a bond with one another.

5. Creativity

While encountering new situations and learning to solve them, individuals discover their creativity, something that separates them from everyone else. Their individuality is at play when solving problems, devising strategies to deal with issues, or leading a team.

6. Confidence

With the completion of every task and a step ahead in the right direction, individuals learn something new and strengthen their skills. Skill building and practice play a significant role in increasing their confidence and making them more self-reliant.

7. Perseverance

Project management is not all rainbows and unicorns, learners will encounter a difficult situation and might fail over and over again, this, however, does not mean that they should give up. As William Whewell puts it, “Every detection of what is false directs us towards what is true: every trial exhausts some tempting form of error“. Learning to persist through difficult circumstances is also an excellent learning outcome of project-based learning.

8. Management

Management skills are a given outcome of project-based learning. This methodology teaches students the various different aspects of management, for example, time management, project management, resource management, and much more. Learning the particulars of management from the very start process is beneficial in the later stages.

9. Ownership

Project-based learning encourages learners to own their projects. They do not treat the project as an assignment but as something that reflects their skills and their abilities. In this way, they learn to own the project and treat it as something meaningful.

10. Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is at the very heart of project-based learning. The very aim of PBL is to stimulate learners’ critical thinking. With active practice, they learn how to actually face problems, how to be quick on their feet, and find accurate solutions. Stimulating their thinking is one very significant and probably the most effective aspect of PBL.

Seeing all the benefits listed above, you might be intrigued to learn more about project-based learning and what it has to offer to project management professionals. In the next section, we will look at some core components of PBM that form its foundation.

What Are the Key Components of Project Based Learning?

By now you must have gotten an answer to the question what is project-based learning? And why project-based learning is necessary. In this section of the post, we will give you a brief overview of the core components of this methodology.

  1. Practical Application: As we said earlier, practice is at the heart of project-based learning. The projects thus planned for the individuals focus on improving their skills, enhancing their critical thinking, and improving communication and collaboration among the team.
  2. Real-World Issues: Whatever students learn during this phase will ultimately help them in the long run. This makes it absolutely necessary that whatever they are taught is in line with what they will encounter in the real world. If there is a gap between the two, then PBL will be meaningless.
  3. Encourage Engagement: Since project-based learning is a test of learners’ skills, you have to make sure they actively participate in the process and are not mere bystanders.
  4. Feedback: Project-based learning is a steppingstone, not the real deal. Do not treat it as an actual, real-world problem. Failure does not mean the end of someone’s career or competency at this stage. It means they have earned a new way of doing things. To make this experience worthwhile for the students, provide them with timely feedback. Assess their performance, identify the gaps and advise them on improvements so that they can avoid the same mistakes again and improve their performance for the future.
  5. Reflection: Once the project is wrapped up, discuss all the gaps in the process. Especially, encourage reflection in the learners. Ask them to ponder upon the things that could have been done better, problems that could have been avoided, etc. This careful contemplation will help them analyze their shortcoming and will probably help them avoid the pitfalls in the future.
  6. Interdisciplinary: Project-based learning is an interdisciplinary approach, you do not focus on one aspect of the project but ascertain that every part of the project is paid attention to. Moreover, the ones involved in the practice also bring in their knowledge from different areas to be able to successfully solve a problem.
  7. Rigorous: PBL is not simple memorization and reproduction of knowledge, individuals have to actively participate in the process. They ask questions, inquire about every aspect of the project, identify the problems, and come up with strategies to solve them. So, PBL is a rigorous process that demands input from the learners.
  8. Learner-Centered: the main purpose of this form of learning is to enhance students’ skills and improve their learning outcomes. This means that there should be limited to no involvement of the instructor. Everything has to be done by the students themselves in order for the process to be a complete success.

These were some basic components of project-based learning. If you are thinking of employing the method in your company for one or all of your employees, make sure you have a firm understanding of the eight points listed above. Each of these will help you streamline the methodology to obtain better results in the end.

Now, let us take a look at some common challenges that people may encounter when learning through project-based learning methods.

Challenges When Working With PBL

Although PBL is a great way of teaching students new skills and empowering them, there are certain areas where the methodology might face challenges.

One of the biggest threats to the implementation of the learning methodology is the traditional mode of learning. Memorization and reproduction of knowledge have twisted out concepts of learning. True learning is not merely knowledge but the ability to practice what you learned.

So, even though PBL might face some resistance, its efficiency will prove that it’s a better option than both.

In addition, since PBL is a new approach to learning, instructors might not be comfortable with the new mode of teaching. The start might be rough, and they might face challenges in accepting and adopting this unique but fruitful methodology. The results obtained later, however, might convince them of the efficiency of the method.

As frightening as challenges may appear, there are always ways of facing the issues and solving them. Instructors can develop authentic assignments to gauge students’ performance and inculcate in them a new way of looking at problems and solving them.

In the long run, project-based learning produces favorable results for the instructors as well as the learners. And it is ultimately reflected in individuals’ work after they step into the real work environment.

Wrap Up!

It’s a wrap from our side. We have just given you a detailed rundown of what is project-based learning, what are its benefits and challenges, and the core components of the methodology. We hope that this post will guide you and direct you on the right path.

If you have anything you would like to add or any query you need answers to, you can contact us at fwilson@ntaskmanager.com. Our team will promptly address your query.

Signing off now, goodbye!

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