Working With Diverse Student Groups
As a collaborative process, project-based learning creates a space where the interests and learning needs of all students can be addressed, regardless of ability and background.
A well-designed project can engage and benefit students with special needs, English learners, students who are gifted and talented, mixed groups of older and younger youth, and other student populations.
Flexibility is the key. According to the National Center on Universal Design for Learning, an environment that supports diverse learning needs does so by using several approaches:
- A variety of presentation methods
- Multiple means of engaging, challenging and motivating students
- Flexible ways for students with differing abilities to demonstrate their learning
Click on the examples below to see how to modify and adapt projects for the following groups:
When English learners and students with different language skills work together on projects, all can improve their literacy and communication skills. Consider teaching key vocabulary words through fun games before they are introduced as part of the project. English learners and other students may also need to be introduced to background knowledge relevant to the project before it begins.
Students With Special Needs
If you work with students who have special needs, discuss the project with their teachers in advance, and come up with a few strategies for how they will be included.
Mixed Groups (Older and Younger Youth)
Consider adapting the overall project plan, so the steps are harder or easier for older and younger youth, respectively. Incorporate elements into the project that allow the older youth to mentor or guide the younger students, or put them into lead roles.