Giving Compass' Take:

• In this interview with Prof. Nell K. Duke, Kate Stringer asks about the benefits of project-based learning, how it can be implemented well and how it can go wrong.

• What are the most important take aways from Prof. Duke's interview? For teachers and administrators trying to implement project-based learning, how can they best utilize resources like Prof. Duke?

• To learn about how one teacher has implemented project-based learning in their classrooms, click here.

Schools have to compete for students’ attention in ways they’ve never had to before, said University of Michigan professor Nell K. Duke, which she said may be one reason classrooms around the country are increasingly implementing project-based learning ... a hands-on approach that often involves months-long projects that students can help shape, from recommending designs for a baseball park to teaching their community about civics. This type of learning dates to the turn of the 20th century with philosopher and education reformer John Dewey, who believed that children learn best when what they are learning is relevant to their environment. The learning model has gained popularity recently for the voice and flexibility it lends to students and teachers, as well as for development of 21st century skills like collaboration and problem-solving.

Duke has seen the good and the bad, and she spoke with The 74 about advice for schools interested in the model.

You’ve written about how project-based learning can go “terribly wrong” ... Can you give an example of what ... bad implementation looks like?

A bad-case example would be each child picks his or her own topic and the culmination of that project is to write a letter to someone involved in the issue they’ve selected and then they’re sent home to work on the project primarily at home over a number of weeks. Arguably, that meets the base definition of project-based learning, but it lacks a lot of important features. First, it’s relying on the home to be the primary place where the project is taking place, whereas we’d like to see that happen largely in school, where teachers can be scaffolding or supporting the experience to help children move forward in their learning.

Read the full article about project-based learning by Kate Stringer at The 74