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16 Questions To Help Students Brainstorm Project-Based Learning

by Terry Heick

We’ve written about inquiry-based learning in the past, as well as its mother project-based learning, and its more complex cousin self-directed learning.

So it made sense to take a look at challenge-based learning–the process of anchoring the learning process through problems–usually local, authentic, and personal to the student. This is a kind of place-based education that takes a project-based approach that begins and ends with the student and their respective and self-examined citizenships.

More on this idea soon. For now, the stages and questions.

16 Questions To Help Students Brainstorm Projects-Based Learning

Step 1: Connect & Analyze


1. What am I a part of? What matters to me?

2. What problems exist that I can treat as opportunities?

3. What do I see well, and what am I blind to? How does my own perspective impact what I see?

4. Which ‘parts’ of the world would most benefit from my creativity, affection, and sustained effort?

Step 2: Research & Contextualize


5. How can I separate causes from effects?

6. What is the history of this problem?

7. Why have previous efforts to solve it fallen short?

8. What is the proper scale I should approach this issue to do my best work?

Step 3: Imagine & Design

9. What is possible? What would have the largest impact? What would endure?

10. What am I uniquely suited to do? How can technology amplify my potential?

11. Who can I work with to improve the response?

12. What absolutely has to happen for this to work?

Step 4: Act & Socialize


13. What is the most meaningful action I can take in response?

14. Who is my primary audience? How can I best reach them?

15. How can I best package my work so that others understand & are moved by it?

16. How will I know if what I’m doing is working?

*previously published at


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