Two hands around a light bulb indicating a project.


Project-Based Learning (PBL) encourages students to develop deeper knowledge and skills through meaningful, real-world projects. PBL presents opportunities for deeper learning in-context, whether local or international, and for the development of skills important for life, work, and citizenship.

We are here to support Middlebury faculty as you learn about PBL and promote a community of practice as you build PBL into your courses – whether in-person or on-line – and as we grow PBL as an increasingly prominent feature of a Middlebury education.

New to PBL?

Want to learn more about PBL and how it will enhance your learning goals?  Check out the Intro to PBL and FAQs, and the evidence on its effectiveness on a variety of success indicators.  Familiarize yourself with the seven PBL Gold Standard Design Elements that represent best practice.


Explore the syllabi section for some ideas.  Then dig into the Challenging Problem or Question section, or reach out to other faculty.

Start with the tools within Design and Plan, and work your way through each section of the seven PBL Gold Standard Teaching Practices.

Connect & Contribute

We want your voice! Hinc ceteri particulas arripere conati suam quisque videro voluit afferre sententiam.

You can also seek assistance by posing a question on the blog or submitting a request for technical assistance.

Learn Along with Us!

We will be posting new content on our blog as we continue our PBL journey. We invite you to join us as we learn and grow. You can see our most recent posts here or explore our archive.

PBL Updates

  • Experiences from “Data Science Across the Disciplines”
    Today during the final PBL meeting of the semester, faculty who taught “Data Science Across the Disciplines” during J-term discussed their experiences. The course was devised by MiddData to teach applications of data literacy in various fields including art-history, sociology, linguistics, and other fields. Professor Alex Lyford lectured about data science and R coding language [...]


  • PBL – What do students think of it?
    At this week’s PBL community meeting, the group discussed the reactions from students to different class projects. First, we looked at surveys from three First Year Seminars in fall 2021 that participated in PBL activities. The answers indicated that students had relatively similar levels of satisfaction and engagement with PBL and non-PBL assignments and activities.  [...]


  • The Role of Project Assistants in PBL
    During this meeting, the community of practice discussed skills that future project assistants will need to be successful in classes with community engagement aspects. At Middlebury, project assistants may not be needed to help with grading, but rather facilitate reflection, manage team dynamics, and communicate logistically with community partners. In Profess Magri’s first year seminar, [...]


Design Elements

Sustained Inquiry

Students engage in a rigorous, extended process of posing questions, finding resources, and applying information.


The project involves real-world context, tasks and tools, quality standards, or impact, or the project speaks to personal concerns, interests, and issues in the students’ lives.


Students and teachers reflect on the learning, the effectiveness of their inquiry and project activities, the quality of student work, and obstacles that arise and strategies for overcoming them.

Critique & Revision

Students give, receive, and apply feedback to improve their process and products.

Public Product

Students make their project work public by explaining, displaying and/or presenting it to audiences beyond the classroom

Challenging Problem or Question

The project is framed by a meaningful problem to be solved or a question to answer, at the appropriate level of challenge

Teaching Practices

Align to Standards

Teachers use standards to plan the project and make sure it addresses key knowledge and understanding from subject areas to be included.

Build the Culture

Teachers explicitly and implicitly promote student independence and growth, open-ended inquiry, team spirit, and attention to quality.

Manage Activities

Teachers work with students to organize tasks and schedules, set checkpoints and deadlines, find and use resources, create products and make them public.

Scaffold Student Learning

Teachers employ a variety of lessons, tools, and instructional strategies to support all students in reaching project goals.

Assess Student Learning

Teachers use formative and summative assessments of knowledge, understanding, and success skills, and include self and peer assessment of team and individual work.

Engage & Coach

Teachers engage in learning and creating alongside students, and identify when they need skill-building, redirection, encouragement, and celebration.

Design & Plan

Teachers create or adapt a project for their context and students, and plan its implementation from launch to culmination while allowing for some degree of student voice and choice.