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Project-based learning: a review of the literature

Kokotsaki, D.; Menzies, V.; Wiggins, A.

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A. Wiggins


Project-based learning (PBL) is an active student-centred form of instruction which is characterised by students’ autonomy, constructive investigations, goal-setting, collaboration, communication and reflection within real-world practices. It has been explored in various contexts and in different phases of schooling, from primary to higher education. The majority of the reviewed studies were based on a quasi-experimental pretest–posttest design with some baseline equivalence established but no random allocation of participants to control and experimental groups, and as a result, a causal link between PBL instruction and positive student outcomes cannot be established with certainty. Modern digital technology, group processes of high quality, teachers’ ability to effectively scaffold students’ learning and provide guidance and support, the balance between didactic instruction with in-depth inquiry methods and well-aligned assessment have been identified in the literature as facilitating factors in the implementation of PBL. The article concludes with six key recommendations considered to be essential for the successful adoption of a PBL approach in the mainstream school setting.


Kokotsaki, D., Menzies, V., & Wiggins, A. (2016). Project-based learning: a review of the literature. Improving Schools, 19(3), 267-277.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 24, 2016
Online Publication Date Jul 20, 2016
Publication Date Nov 1, 2016
Deposit Date Jul 5, 2016
Publicly Available Date Jul 5, 2016
Journal Improving Schools
Print ISSN 1365-4802
Electronic ISSN 1475-7583
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 19
Issue 3
Pages 267-277


Accepted Journal Article (376 Kb)

Copyright Statement
Kokotsaki, D., Menzies, V. and Wiggins, A. (2016) 'Project-based learning : a review of the literature.', Improving schools., 19 (3). pp. 267-277. Copyright © 2016 The Author(s). Reprinted by permission of SAGE Publications.

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