This video is a great example of PBL. It comes from the Buck Institute.
It includes segments showing the planning stages and exemplifies how PBL should have a real purpose.
Here, the curriculum does not seem to be a rigid force which has to be manipulated, rather the project presents reasons for the skills and knowledge to be learnt.
Do the teachers keep track of what has been learned?
Do teachers make notes of who contributed, who succeeded and who worked the hardest?
Does this school ONLY use PBL?
The real life context of the learning provides the motivation...decisions which the children take will have a real effect on their surroundings and way of life:
The influence of contextual factors on cognition has also engendered a good deal of
research and has, according to the citations in PBL research, had an important influence on the
authenticity and autonomy elements of Project-Based Learning. According to research on
"situated cognition," learning is maximized if the context for learning resembles the real-life
context in which the to-be-learned material will be used; learning is minimized if the context in
which learning occurs is dissimilar to the context in which the learning will be used (Brown,Collins & Duguid, 1989).
(A REVIEW OF RESEARCH ON PROJECT-BASED LEARNING, John W. Thomas, Ph. D
March, 2000, )