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Chuck Carney
IU School of Education

Last modified: Thursday, June 25, 2009

Project-based learning institute to emphasize "learning by doing"

IU School of Education professors behind planning of workshop

June 25, 2009

INDIANAPOLIS -- Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis -- in conjunction with other organizations -- is sponsoring a three-day workshop for educators who wish to learn more about project-based learning.

The workshop, titled "Learning by Doing: Project-Based Learning Institute for Middle and High School Educators," will enable educators to develop their own project-based learning (PBL) plans. The workshop begins Monday, June 29, at Ben Davis High School, 1200 N. Girls School Road, Indianapolis. The University of Indianapolis and its Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning and the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation are also sponsors of the event.


Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis -- in conjunction with other organizations -- is sponsoring a three-day workshop for educators who wish to learn more about project-based learning.

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The idea for the workshop originated with planning team members Beth Berghoff, graduate chair and associate professor of language education, and Joy Seybold, director of the Transition to Teaching program and chair of secondary teacher education, both of whom teach at the IU School of Education at IUPUI.

Berghoff and Seybold say the need for such a workshop has become obvious through the growth of New Tech High programs (which use PBL as a basis for learning) throughout the state. The workshop will also help introduce PBL to schools that might not be able to afford a complete transition to a New Tech model.

"Using the project-based learning keys with teachers still allows the schools to push forward a more engaged, inquiry-based approach to learning," Seybold said. "That's why we thought this institute would be helpful. Obviously, there are lots of teachers and schools across the state who want to know more."

The institute begins with two sessions led by Michael McDowell, the school development coach at the New Technology Foundation, the California-based organization that promotes and teaches about the New Tech model. McDowell will then help lead work sessions throughout the institute, during which attendees will develop a project-based learning unit.

Berghoff said organizers will give participants an "entry document" that serves as a starting point for developing their unit. She said facilitators will essentially treat participants as students by giving them a target and presenting the challenges and problems in the way of reaching the goal.

"At the end of these three days, we want you to have a plan for how you're going to collaborate," Berghoff said of the participants. "We want you to have an assessment tool developed. So if they're brand new, it will be learning how to do that. And if they already have experience, it will be starting with a unit that they want to work on and actually create that unit."

The intensive program is designed to provide assistance to educators at all levels of learning about project-based learning. "We basically have three programs running at the same time," Berghoff said. "There'll be a program for beginners -- those people who feel they need the nuts and bolts. Then there is a strand for more advanced people who have already been doing it and want support in planning units. Then we have a strand for administrators and people who are more in support roles."

Individual sessions throughout the institute will focus on certain aspects of project-based learning, including creating tools for assessing student learning and using educational software to support the program.

Although organizers expect hundreds of participants, on-site registration is available. More about the program is available on the IU School of Education at IUPUI Web site at