Six reasons why PBL is applicable in a flipped classroom

In flipped classroom students study class materials at home or during their free time and practice or in-depth learning takes place in class with the instructor as a facilitator.  Practice may be in the form of homework, hands-on experience as in Science laboratory, problem or project based learning.  Project Based Learning (PBL) is an inquiry experience; it is a constructivist approach to instruction and assessment.  PBL is a learner centered and authentic approach to assessment.  In project-based instruction, the instructor engages learners with authentic questions or prompts, inquiry-based activities, and the use of cognitive (technology-based) tools (Thomas, 2000).  There are benefits associated with teaching and learning using the PBL approach (Gulbahar & Tinmaz, 2006).  Learners

  • are involved in active learning,
  • acquires positive attitude towards the learning process,
  •  improve their work routine,
  • improve problem solving abilities and
  • acquires self-esteem.

PBL involves students in real life experience, and therefore the product and learning experience (process) is essential.  The learning process is rigorous; learners take initiative and responsibility since the instructor assumes the role of a facilitator.  PBL experiences are designed to suit students of all ages and developmental level.

There are different views of PBL process.  One of the comprehensive models of PBL expectation was created by Buck Institute for Education and depicted in the heptagon.  The essential elements are also explained in a video (PBL: Explained:

         The PBL essential elements illustrates significant content and 21st century skills that are essential in classroom today and connects students to the real world experience (BIE, 2012).  These six essential elements of PBL are the six reasons why PBL is applicable in a flipped classroom:

Significant Content   and 21st Century skills

  1. In-depth inquiry: Students ask questions, search for answers, and arrive at conclusions, leading them to construct something new: an idea, an interpretation, or a product.
  2. Driving Question (open-ended):  This focuses students’ work and deepens their learning by framing important issues, debates, challenges or problems.
  3. Public audience: Students present their work to other people, beyond their classmates and teacher – in person or online.  Presentation increases students’ motivation to do high-quality work, and adds to the authenticity of the project.
  4.  Need to know: Project Based Learning reverses the order in which information and concepts are traditionally presented.  A typical unit with a “project” add-on begins by presenting students with knowledge and concepts and then, once gained, giving students the opportunity to apply them.  Project Based Learning begins with the vision of a product or presentation.  This creates a context and reason to learn and understand the information and concepts.
  5. Student voice and choice:  Students learn to work independently and take responsibility when they are asked to make choices.  The opportunity to make choices, and to express their learning in their own voice, also helps to increase students’ educational engagement.
  6. Revision and reflection.  Students learn to give and receive feedback in order to improve the quality of the products they create, and are asked to think about what and how they are learning.

 PBL Feedback

Revision and reflection of PBL products requires a clear and concise rubric.  Students’ product(s) is a result of rigorous and relevant experience and therefore the grading criteria should not overlook any aspect of the work input that produced the output.  Students self and peer assessment of their work enhance their self-esteem and the PBL process since students value their peers feedback.  The following is a sample PBL checklist that can be used in oral presentation:


The 3Cs of PBL

From the BIE 21st century skills model, three components stand out as overarching PBL experience.  Students are in involved in critical thinking, collaboration, and communication that are all essential components in the real world.



Buck Institute for Education (2012).  What is pbl?  Retrieved from

Gulbahar, Y., & Tinmaz, H. (2006).  Implementing Project-Based Learning and E-Portfolio Assessment in an Undergraduate Course.  Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 38(3), 309-327.

Mwangi, M. (2011).  Impact of Integrating Educational Technology in Science Lessons At an Urban

School in the State Of Georgia: Student Learning Perspectives.  Argosy University.  (Dissertation)

Thomas, J. W. (2000).  A review of research on project-based learning.

Retrieved from

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