Is it still PBL without an Authentic Audience?

In order for learning to be considered project based learning it has to engage students with hands-on, real-life learning and experiences (Everette, 2015).  Part of a real world experience is being able to share what you have learned with a larger audience.  For this reason, I believe that in order for a project to be considered PBL, it has to involve presentation to an authentic audience.  When a student completes a project in the classroom, it basically just has to be good enough to meet the project requirements and teacher’s approval for grading.  On the contrary, with project based learning, a presentation to an authentic audience raises the bar for student work (Everette, 2015). When a student knows that they will have to present their work to an outside, meaningful audience, there is a relevance behind the project tasks and students might be more inclined to work harder and put forth their best effort.  A public audience opens the project up for more questions and the students have to be prepared to defend their work.  This requires the students to be able to apply what they have learned in order to meet the needs of their audience (Reese, 2015).   It helps prepare students for the real world beyond the classroom.  

The type of authentic audience should be determined based on what makes sense for the project.  It does not always have to be an enormous presentation.  There are a variety of ways to present a project to an authentic audience. The presentation could be an online presentation such as a video that could be accessed by a larger audience, it could be a presentation to school families or the administration, or it could be work posted or presented for the community affected by the project.  As part of the PBL experience, the students should have input on determining the best way to present their work to each other and a broader audience (Everette, 2015).

Students engage in deeper learning when they present to an authentic audience.  It requires students to think strategically, communicate effectively, and apply what they have learned in a meaningful way (Reese, 2015).


Everette, M. (2015, March 11). 8 essential elements of project based learning. In Scholastic. Retrieved February 11, 2017, from
Reese, D. (2015, September 26). The importance of audience in authentic teaching and learning. In linkedin. Retrieved February 11, 2017, from



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