Project-Based Learning

Project-Based Learning: Raising Student Achievement for All Learners

Project-based learning – raising student achievement for all learners. Inquiry-based learning – from teacher-guided to student-driven. Real-world problem solving – finding solutions through projects.

There is a persistent gap in the achievement of kids who live in poverty and kids in wealthy communities in the US.

This article is commissioned by the Fastest Online Whiteboard For Education |

Project-Based Learning

Project-based learning is a powerful tool to connect students with their communities, with real purposes and audiences, and it appears to be an effective way of improving student achievement.

Annelise Halvorsen and Nell Duke designed curricula that integrated literacy and social studies using project-based learning.

According to Nell Duke, project place stands for “Project approach to Literacy And Civic Engagement.”

They have designed four big projects. They have aligned the units around the literacy standards and social studies standards for 2nd grade. Then commenced a fairly large study to test the impact in high-poverty, low-performing school districts.

The study was with 48 different classrooms in 20 elementary schools. Half of them were assigned to teach the designed projects, and half were asked to teach the regular social studies curriculum.

Raising Student Achievement

Teachers were randomly assigned to do project-based learning or not. These were teachers who did not have prior experience doing project-based learning.

They taught sixty lessons and have tested children at the end of the school year.

Annelise Halvorsen found that students who received project-based learning scored at higher reading and social studies levels.

Nell Duke tells us that a project-based framework can be successful right out of the gate. You may go on a field trip with students to Hawthorne Park and learn something memorable.

Student Achievement for All Learners

Aaron Phillips teaches second grade at Grayson Elementary. There they are doing the civics and government unit of Project PLACE. They have started the unit by taking a field trip.

Aaron says they go to a park, discover it, and look at its strengths and weaknesses. All the kids were engaged, all the kids were interested.

That is when they can shine, and you can see a real difference in the learning.

Raising Achievement for All Learners

Lynn Bigelman has stated that it was very exciting for their kids to feel that they had a voice to promote change. Students were delighted and excited in the manner. According to Nell, right away, the driving purpose, to improve the park or other public space, is established.

In every lesson, there’s a direct connection between what students are doing and that ultimate purpose. The students would say to the person who made the park to fix the park.

Annelise: had hopes that students would see that they’re valuable contributing members to the community. They can make a difference.

Raising Student Achievement for All Learners

Aaron wonders if they could try to persuade people in the government to fix something at the park. The students learned how to write a proposal. They got to create posters for the different departments within the local government.

Student Achievement

Annelise says that children are curious about the world around them. They’re curious about issues in their community and what adults do.

Civic education is a really important part of students becoming functioning citizens who contribute and are active in their communities. Students took the work and made it into a PowerPoint presentation. They ultimately presented it to somebody on City Council.

Achievement for All Learners

We know from research that children’s writing tends to be stronger when writing for an audience beyond school.

Nell says that part of it is that project-based learning conveys high expectations for students. As much as possible, Nell wants to give kids an opportunity to write for an audience that’s not just their teacher. The audience may be members of their

  • local community
  • state
  • nation
  • or the world

Project-Based Learning and Students Achievement

This type of earning makes students proud that they are helping the whole community.

Project-based learning gives children an opportunity to have a voice of all

  1. ages
  2. statuses
  3. diversity


You can see the level of engagement in project-based learning. The learning becomes contagious. Years later, kids come back to the teacher and talk about the projects.

Annelise said that they were excited about conducting this study. To say that project-based learning can make a difference in children’s achievement at the elementary level. It’s a great alternative to traditional approaches to learning.

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