Problem and Project-based Learning for the Common Good


Problem-based learning is a student-centered pedagogy in which students learn about a subject in the context of complex, multifaceted, and realistic problems. The goals of problem-based learning are to help the students develop flexible knowledge, effective problem solving skills, self-directed learning, effective collaboration skills and intrinsic motivation.


Project-based learning is an instructional method that provides students with complex tasks based on challenging questions or problems that involve the students' problem solving, decision making, investigative skills, and reflection that includes teacher facilitation, but not direction.

The Difference

The difference between the two lies largely in their application: problem-based learning focuses on the problem and the process, while project-based learning focuses on the product. Learn more about the differences between problem and project-based learning..

When either is used to address a community problem or project, the result may look a lot like service-learning and classes can use the Risk Management policy.

Additionally, faculty can work with the ICCE to deepen the experience for all involved. Please contact the ICCE to discuss this further.

1) Hmelo-Silver, C.E. (2004). Problem-based learning: What and How Do Students Learn? Educational Psychology Review, 16(3).

2) Buck Institute for Education (2003). Project Based Learning Handbook.