The Design-Based Learning Project applies and builds upon the Doreen Nelson Method of Design-Based Learning ™. Successfully taught in K–12 classrooms since 1971, this student-centered teaching methodology engages students in seeking and solving curriculum-based problems as they build a city, colony, civilization, or other small, contextual model in the classroom.
Design-Based Learning is structured around Essential Questions described in the standard K–12 curricula content. Encompassing all subject areas, Design-Based Learning is an interdisciplinary methodology that ignites creativity and motivates civic engagement to teach critical thinking and problem solving.
Design-Based Learning is rooted in the spatial domain — learning by doing. It is not arts and crafts. Designed and built by students as solutions to content-related problems, quickly made physical artifacts—a creature or avatar, a shelter, a neighborhood, a colony, a city—open up the high level thinking skills that propel creative thinking. Students learn to express themselves and become agile decision-makers with the ability to use and reuse concepts and big ideas across the curriculum and in multiple settings.
Design-Based Learning is not intended to replace the mandated curricula. Rather, it gives teachers a powerful methodology for presenting engaging subject matter across the disciplines to meet the required content standards and the needs of diverse learners.