No clear impact for Project Based Learning

4 November 2016

A team from Durham University have evaluated a trial of a Project Based Learning (PBL) intervention called ‘Learning through REAL Projects’, developed by the Innovation Unit – an independent social enterprise which aims to improve public sector services. The programme involves teachers from different subjects designing and planning projects which enable pupils to produce a publicly-exhibited output such as a product, publication, or presentation.

Year 7 classes in 12 intervention schools (2,101 pupils) and 12 control schools (1,973 pupils), took part in a randomised controlled trial to test the impact the Learning through REAL Projects intervention on literacy when comparing pupils in intervention schools with those in control schools. The trial also examined the impact of the programme on engagement with school and learning for pupils in the interventions schools.

The results of the trial did not find any evidence that the PBL intervention had an impact either on the Year 7 pupils’ literacy performance (as measured by the Progress in English 12 assessment), engagement or attendance, although methodological weaknesses, including a high dropout rate, reduce the security of these findings. The analysis did find a statistically significant negative impact on students eligible for free school meals, however as no negative impact was found for lower attaining pupils more generally, caution should be applied to this finding.

Read the full report on the EEF website.

Posted on 4 November 2016
Posted in: Evidence