Project-Based Learning (PBL) is an instructional methodology that fosters in students deeper knowledge and skills by engaging in meaningful projects that address a real-world problem or answer a complex question.  Project-Based Learning (PBL) at Middlebury is an initiative and a growing community of practice among faculty and staff who embrace PBL as an effective way of increasing student engagement and who want to promote its broader adoption on our campus.  Project-Based Learning encourages students to drive more of their own learning process.  Facilitated by thoughtful and attentive instructors, the PBL approach centers projects – authentic, sustained, collaborative, and student-generated – within the course design, which empowers students to master course content while also strengthening essential life skills – communication, collaboration, critique, critical thinking, creativity, and project-management.  

PBL provides for students the experience of independently identifying what they do not know and pursuing new knowledge and skills. It is among the most effective active and engaged pedagogies that asks students to apply their learning to multidisciplinary, unscripted problems and projects, and exposes them to the complexity and volatility that they will face when they leave Middlebury. PBL also results in higher levels of engagement and achievement. Known as a “high impact” effective educational practice, the benefits of PBL are especially striking for minority, low-income, or other marginalized students.

At the core of our work is the Buck Institute of Education’s PBL “Gold Standard of Essential Elements,” which we use to facilitate conversation about practice and pedagogy.  We offer faculty development and support throughout the year in collaboration with the Experiential Learning Centers, CTLR, the Library, and DLINQ, and we are constructing a website with resources, syllabi, course materials, and a way for faculty to seek assistance and connect further to this growing community of pedagogues:

PBL tools and course materials:

Faculty resources on the seven Essential PBL Design Elements and seven PBL Teaching Practices.


Contact:  Amy McGlashan,; Amy Morsman,; Jessica Teets,