The Project Approach is a set of teaching strategies that helps teachers guide Pre-K children through in-depth investigations of real-world topics. It is designed to use children’s interests as the starting point for organizing and developing classroom learning activities. The program balances spontaneous play, systematic instruction, and project work. Projects can extend over many days or weeks, and include discussion, fieldwork, investigation, and display.
The Project Approach was evaluated in the federal PCER project. Thirteen classes in Wisconsin were randomly assigned to The Project Approach or control conditions. Among six pre-K outcome measures, there were significant positive outcomes only on Woodcock Letter-Word Identification at the student level. The average effect size for all six was +0.20. At kindergarten follow-up, there were significant differences at the student level only on TOLD, and the average effect size across six measures was +0.12. The student-level outcomes qualified The Project Approach for the ESSA “Promising” category.