The Project Method in Historical Context Chapter uri icon


  • 2013 Sense Publishers. All rights reserved. SProject-Based Learning (PBL) has been a long tradition in Americas public schools, extending back to the 19th century to the work of Francis W. Parker and John Dewey. As a method for general education, the idea of project-based classroom instruction was co-opted from agriculture and the industrial arts and, after first being applied in the elementary schools, was extended to all grade levels. Initially focused on real-world problems with tangible, measurable outcomes, the project method was quickly adopted and applied to any activity of interest to students, however transient and/or insignificant. The lack of a succinct definition for the project method has prevented the assessment of its success, regardless, the method became the current model of instruction in all subjects for all students, often failing to meet the needs of children, teachers, or society. The project method, as a descriptive term for school practice, was replaced with child-centeredness and the activity curriculum. After a period of near obscurity, PBL has been reclaimed by educators to educate 21stcentury students.

author list (cited authors)

  • Burlbaw, L. M., Ortwein, M. J., & Williams, J. K.

citation count

  • 5

complete list of authors

  • Burlbaw, Lynn M||Ortwein, Mark J||Williams, J Kelton

Book Title

  • STEM Project-Based Learning

publication date

  • January 2013