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Lifelong Skills That Project-Based Learning Creates for Younger Students

Lifelong Skills That Project-Based Learning Creates for Younger Students

Project-based learning (PBL) is designed to allow students to gain meaningful skills by actively engaging in real-world projects. By employing this method, educators can make learning come alive for students as they demonstrate their knowledge to solve complex problems. And when students engage with that complexity, they develop not only deep content knowledge but also other important skills.

Let’s look at some of the benefits using PBL can have on skill development for younger learners:

Critical Thinking

When participating in project-based learning activities, students’ critical-thinking skills are constantly being improved as they complete projects. As students analyze, interpret, and gather information to solve the problem at hand, they also make connections between data to implement a solution. For example, if a student is conducting a research project on the solar system featuring background information on each planet, the student may use skills like analysis and interpretation to create a timeline that details the history in a concise way. In the process, the student practices research skills, sequencing, and distinguishing fact from opinion—all skills they will use throughout their lifetime as they do things like conduct research to buy a car, form opinions about an issues, or plan projects on the job.


Collaboration skills are key in a PBL environment to increase student engagement. Students and teachers must effectively communicate to consider alternate viewpoints and think through ideas together. Collaboration helps educators model successful approaches to learning and cooperating that will help students thrive in completing their project and in working with others in the future. Say that your students are tasked with a group activity to design a gingerbread house with a specific perimeter, but are unsure where to start to determine the sizes of the sides. You can step in with guidance and modeling on how the students can ask questions of each other, create plans, think outside the box to determine placement and layout, test ideas, and draw conclusions as a group. Learning to work collaboratively helps students—and the people they will work with throughout their academic, personal, and career lives—build stronger teams that work more efficiently and effectively.


PBL encourages students’ creativity skills as they look for solutions using their knowledge and resources. In projects, students are encouraged to use a variety of ways of thinking and different approaches to build on provided elements. As they investigate, they explore and develop curiosity about a topic before beginning to create a solution. For instance, if students are working on a project in which they’re instructed to build a bridge using craft sticks, then they might start with their existing knowledge of bridges to provide background information and guide them. Then, they might begin to think about how a stick structure is similar to and different from other kinds of structures. This may lead to thinking in creative ways about how to complete the task. Using PBL as a place for students to safely practice a variety of creative thinking techniques provides opportunities to building “thinking muscles” that eventually may result in flexible and stronger problem solvers and solution creators.  

Edmentum’s Calvert Learning, an elementary-level digital curriculum, utilizes the research-based PLUS framework and actively engages students in project-based learning that allows them to develop skills they apply to real-world situations. Take the next step toward implementing this virtual- and blended-learning program in your district. For more information, check out the Calvert Learning product page.