The Power of Project-Based Learning

Cicely C Warren, Fordham University


Sankofa Academy, a pseudonym, located in New Jersey, was founded in 2015 with the intention of better meeting the needs of African American boys and young men who had historically been the lowest performing demographic in the district. Three years into its existence, it was identified as a School in Need of Comprehensive Support. At the time of this research, the school served 65 African American male students in Grades 3-8. This study aimed to explore the impact of project-based learning (PBL) on student achievement and how a professional learning group (PLG) could support the implementation of project-based learning. This mixed-methods study used an Improvement Science approach focusing on three drivers of change: 1) supervision of instruction, 2) improving teacher capacity, and 3) improving instructional practices. A single nine-week Plan-Do-Study-Act cycle was planned encompassing two components: a PLG for teachers and the introduction of PBL for students. Leading measures provided solid indicators that student mastery of content standards developed as students progressed in their PBL units and evolved in their acquisition of success skills. These results indicate that Gold Standard PBL has the potential to positively impact student achievement. The professional learning group (PLG) facilitated the implementation of PBL by providing the structural supports and resources needed for capacity-building as well as increasing teachers’ confidence in their ability to implement PBL and their sense of collective efficacy as they collaborated to develop and implement interdisciplinary projects.

Subject Area

Education|Instructional Design|Pedagogy

Recommended Citation

Warren, Cicely C, "The Power of Project-Based Learning" (2023). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI30631991.