Two students working together on a project in the gymnasium

Project Based Learning

Buck Institute for Education partnered with CCPS to support the district in implementing PBL. BIE is a nonprofit organization, based in Novato, in Marin County, CA, just north of San Francisco. BIE provides materials, professional development, and research to promote the effective use of PBL across the U.S. and around the world. BIE also publishes the PBL Toolkit Series, short books on various topics in PBL.

Why do CCPS students need access to Project Based Learning?
In projects, students work on on authentic tasks and products, explore issues relevant to their lives, and connect with adults and organizations in the community and beyond. They see how the knowledge and skills they’re learning apply to the real world. PBL is valuable for CCPS students because it effectively teaches significant content and 21st century skills, it makes school more engaging and meaningful for students, and because the demands of college, career and citizenship require it.

What does research tell us about the impact of Project Based Learning on student achievement?

In projects, students delve deeply into topics and spend time thinking about how to answer a profound question, solve problems and resolve issues. In order to successfully create and present the products required in a project, students need to gain content knowledge and use academic skills. As a result of the experience, they understand more thoroughly and retain what they learn longer. Research has proven that students in PBL classes    :

Show increased confidence in learning.

  • Show improvement in critical-thinking skills.

  • Outperform students in traditional classes on conceptual problems.

  • Show an increase in the ability to define problems.

  • Improve problem-solving abilities.

  • Demonstrate growth in their ability to support their reasoning with clear arguments.

  • Learn collaboration skills including how to understand multiple perspectives and conflict resolution skills.

  • Improve work habits.

  • Show gains in factual learning that are equivalent or superior to students in traditional classes.

  • Perform equally well on standardized tests of basic skills.

How does PBL connect to the CCPS mission and vision?

Our vision is that Chesterfield County Public Schools will provide an engaging and relevant education that prepares every student to adapt and thrive in a rapidly changing world. Project Based Learning is one of CCPS’ instructional approaches for actualizing this vision and supporting the following goals in the district’s Design for Excellence 2020:

Goal #1: All learners will acquire, analyze, synthesize and evaluate information to solve meaningful problems and to achieve success as productive, thriving global citizens.

Goal #2: All learners will demonstrate the 21st-century learning and technology skills and knowledge that will prepare them for success in school, postsecondary education, work and life in a global society.

Goal #3: Working in partnership with school and family, all students will understand, model and embrace the important attitudes and attributes necessary to be responsible global citizens.

In order to meet these strategic goals through PBL, CCPS will create Project Based Learning experiences for students to apply core knowledge, concepts, and 21st skills, within and across disciplines, to solve real world problems.

What is the role of PBL in relation to existing CCPS initiatives?

PBL is a curriculum design model and teaching methodology that frames all important CCPS initiatives. None of the CCPS initiatives exist in isolation. Rather, they are mutually supportive and all play a role towards realization of the vision. PBL isn’t just “another initiative.” It provides a common way of doing things. PBL provides:

  • A common curriculum design process for teaching and assessing significant content and 21st century skills

  • A methodology for facilitating rigorous, in-depth inquiry

  • A common vocabulary

  • A unifying process and methodology that is flexible for use across grade levels and subject areas in CCPS

What are the key attributes of the CCPS PBL Tactical Implementation Plan?

  • The following goals were established regarding PBL:

  • For students: When fully implemented, PBL will:

    • Enhance engagement

    • Provide a systematic framework for learning 21st century skills and mastering standards defined within CCPS curriculum frameworks

    • Provide a relevant application of learning

  • For staff: When fully implemented, PBL will:

    • Enhance opportunities for student engagement

    • Provide a tool as a systematic framework for teaching 21st century skills and rigorous content

    • Provide opportunity to evaluate student understanding of relevance

  • For community: When fully implemented, PBL will:

    • Prepare students for real-world, problem solving experiences

    • Equip our students with 21st century skills necessary for success in the workforce and post-secondary education

    • Engage business community in public education through CCPS’ Resource Bank