Virginia Tech® home

Project-Based Learning


CETL supports faculty with programs and resources for both project-based learning and problem-based learning.

Project-based learning is an educational approach that enables students to learn by engaging in authentic, relevant projects that necessitate the use of critical thinking, problem-solving, collaboration, and communication abilities.

Problem-Based Learning is a teaching method in which complex real-world problems are used as the vehicle to promote student learning of concepts and principle. While historically based in clinical preparation and professional schools including medicine and business, problem-based learning has since been infused in many other fields of study with positive learning outcomes for students at all levels.

Outcomes of PBL

While both forms of PBL engage student in real-world problem solving, project-based requires the completion of a project while problem-based focuses on problem identification and proposes a solution. Both forms of PBL are significant educational strategies aiding in the development of students’ abilities and skills required for success in the classroom as well as future careers. Using a PBL approach has been connected to the following student goals and outcomes:

  1. Develop critical thinking abilities through analyzing data, using their imaginations, and working through difficult problems.
  2. Improve collaboration and communication through teamwork.
  3. Foster innovative and creative thinking.
  4. Increase student motivation and engagement by promoting relevance and connection of theory, concepts, and application.

Project-Based Learning Award

The Project-Based Learning Award is given to one individual implementing project-based learning at the course level OR a faculty team implementing across courses. This award is given every three years. Learn more about the award and nomination process.

Resources Supporting Project-Based Learning

There are various resources across campus to support faculty and student engagement in project-based learning. Please click on the buttons below to learn more about these resources.

PBL Institutes

NEW this year, CETL is offering two PBL institutes:

Project-based AND Problem-based

The institutes will be online on Fridays: October 6, October 13, and October 20 (for Project-Based) OR October 27 (for Problem-Based).

Participants completing an institute will receive $500 in professional development funds to support their PBL goals.

Faculty interested in participating in BOTH the Project-Based and Problem-Based Learning Institutes should submit registration forms for both institutes.

PBL Institute I: Project-Based Learning Institute

In partnership with WPI’s Center for Project Based Learning, the Project-Based learning institute will offer presentations, workshops, and pedagogical coaching with faculty mentors with extensive experience and expertise designing courses and teaching with projects.  

Register for the Project-Based Learning Institute

PBL Institute I: Agenda

Friday, October 6

  • 9:00 Opening Session: Introduction to best practices in learning through PBL
  • 10:00 Meet with coaches
  • 11:00 Workshop I: Making room for PBL in courses
  • 12:30 Closing: Action items and next steps

Friday, October 13

  • 9:00 Opening Session: Benefits and long term impacts of PBL
  • 10:15 Workshop II: Equitable teaming
  • 11:30 Meet with Coaches
  • 12:00 Reconvene Key questions and discussion

Friday, October 20

  • 9:00 Workshop III: Assessment and evaluation of PBL
  • 10:00 Work on final action plans
  • 11:00 Action plan presentations
  • 12:00 Close

PBL Institute II: Problem-Based Learning Institute (NEW)

In partnership with University of Delaware’s Institute for Transforming University Education, Virginia Tech is launching a NEW PBL institute focused on problem-based learning. Join experts in problem-based learning pedagogy to design problems to be drivers of learning in your course. Faculty will participate in guided workshops and coaching.

Register for the Problem-Based Learning Institute

PBL Institute II: Agenda

Friday, October 6

  • 1:00 Welcome and Introduction Session: Experience It Yourself: A Model PBL Problem
  • 1:45 Reflection and discussion
  • 2:00 Overview of PBL: Introduction to the process and objectives of PBL
  • 3:00 Focus on Problem writing: Constructing a well-formed problem
  • 3:45 Wrap up and action items

Friday, October 13

  • 1:00 Small Group feedback on problem drafts
  • 1:45 Developing and Revising problems
  • 2:15 Course design and Implementation
  • 3:00 Assessment strategies
  • 3:20 Q&A Discussion session 
  • 3:50 Wrap up and next steps

Friday, October 27

  • 1:00 Optional: in-person lunch
  • 2:30 Sharing and showcasing
  • 3:45 Wrap-up