The Future of Education

Edition 14

Accepted Abstracts

The Power of Project-Based Learning

Derek Michael, Global Learning Charter Public School (United States)


Innovation in education can manifest in several ways. In this presentation, I will explore the use of project-based learning in charter schools. The American education system includes charter schools. These schools, often located in areas impacted by high poverty, focus on innovative ways of increasing school achievement among the most marginalized students. The Global Learning Charter Public School (GLCPS) in New Bedford, Massachusetts is one such institution. GLCPS, named by the Washington Post as one of America's "Most Challenging High Schools," is a 500-student secondary school for students in grades 5-12. For years, GLCPS students have scored at- or above-average on state exams. One key aspect of this school’s curriculum is its use of Project-Based Learning (PBL) to foster an individualized, motivating educational experience that fosters closer personal connections to the local community. This presentation will use the GLCPS experience to highlight how Project-Based Learning can increase student motivation, academic skills and connections to community, particularly among students traditionally marginalized by school, such as students with special needs and emergent bilinguals. Grounded in the research of Desi (1996), Dweck (2007), and Csikszentmihalyi (2008), Project-Based Learning gives students voice and choice in topics of study. Most often, these topics of study are rooted in the needs of the community creating a powerful connection between the student and that community. This powerful curriculum design further supports student growth in 21st Century Learning skills, such as communication, critical thinking, and collaboration. This presentation will address ways in which project-based learning can be incorporated in varied educational settings, to engage and support youth.

Keywords Project-based, problem-based, experiential, student-centered, community-connected 

[1] Boss, S. (2018). Project based teaching. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
[2] Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2008). Flow: The psychology of optimal experience. New York: Harper Perennial.
[3] Deci, E. L., & Flaste, R. (1995). Why we do what we do: The dynamics of personal autonomy. G P Putnam's Sons.
[4] Dweck, Carol S. (2006) Mindset: The new psychology of success. New York: Random.
[5] Larmer, J., J. Mergendoller, S. Boss. (2015). Setting the standard for project based learning. Alexandria, VA: ACSD.


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