Why Social and Emotional Learning Is Essential to Project-Based Learning


Baines, A.M., De Vivo, K., Warner, N., DeBarger, A., Udall, D., Zuckerbrod, N., & Felsen, K. (2021). Why Social and Emotional Learning Is Essential to Project-Based Learning. Lucas Education Research.

This paper looks at the connection between project-based learning and social and emotional learning (SEL). While all learning experiences benefit from a supportive social and emotional learning process and context, the collaborative and student-led nature of project-based learning (PBL) necessitates an emphasis on SEL. This paper explores that relationship and what’s needed for PBL to succeed. It also describes the ways in which a project-based approach can help a school or classroom meet its SEL goals.

The authors highlight research studies that examine the impact of PBL approaches on students’ social and emotional development. For example, they describe how an elementary science curriculum helps students reflect on and take ownership of their work, how a ninth grade English language arts curriculum promotes empathy and self-advocacy, and how a middle-school PBL science curriculum explicitly teaches collaboration skills.