6 Factors that Make Project-Based Learning Sustainable

Shifting from Traditional PBL to Sustainable PBL

by Brad Sever

Project-Based Learning (PBL) continues to gain momentum as a powerful instructional methodology. However, outside of public schools that are affiliated with specialized school networks such as High Tech High, or the New Technology Network, it seems challenging to find schools that have genuinely sustained standards-based, and rigorous project-based learning being implemented in a sustainable way. In my new book, Sustainable Project-Based Learning: 5 Steps for Designing Authentic Classroom Experiences in Grades 5-12, I go into depth on both the what and the how of designing, implementing, and sustaining PBL.  Here are six qualities that shift PBL to sustainable PBL (SPBL). 

Factor #1: Growing teacher collective efficacy through an intentional student learning goal

Too often when teachers are trained in PBL, they are only trained on how to design a PBL unit. It is important to know how to design a PBL unit and the elements that make a unit a PBL unit. However, if you want to sustain PBL, you need to know how to have ongoing conversations about the evidence of student learning among teacher collaboration teams before, during, and after the implementation of a PBL unit. This will grow what Dr. John Hattie calls “collective teacher efficacy.” Working in collaborative teams not only grows teacher efficacy, but the team provides support and accountability to focus on student learning outcomes.

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Brad Sever

About Brad Sever

Brad Sever is a national presenter, speaking on project-based learning, instructional coaching, and leadership. He has provided professional development for charter schools, urban, rural, and suburban schools for the last 10 years. In addition, he is a National Faculty member for PBLWorks (formerly the Buck Institute for Education). His practical approach to professional development comes from the variety of experiences and perspectives he has gained.