Project-based learning in the advanced German class

Project-based learning (PBL) provides authentic content and language learning in the second language classroom. Technology-infused PBL also creates opportunities for real-life application of the language and technology skills acquired. However, since PBL is often envisioned as group work, classes with small enrolments (fewer than 6 students) pose a challenge. In addition, the unfamiliarity of students and instructors with the characteristics of PBL can lead to struggles around autonomy, motivation, and flexibility. In this chapter, we examine one PBL course for advanced students of German at the post-secondary level through the lens of Stoller’s 10 characteristics of a PBL course. Since Stoller’s characteristics are drawn from PBL studies of large classes where students worked in groups, our study examines whether those characteristics still apply in smaller classes where students worked on individual projects. Through this action research into our own practice, we demonstrate whether the 10 characteristics can be applied to small classes and identify the challenges of PBL that arose in this context: student autonomy, role redefinitions, and instructor reflective practice. We envision how future research might address some of these challenges, examining ways to foster student autonomy through an understanding of role redefinitions in PBL courses and ways to strengthen reflective practice among post-secondary instructors.
This is an Accepted Manuscript of a book chapter published by Routledge in Global perspectives on project-based language learning, teaching, and assessment: Key approaches, technology tools, and frameworks on October 10, 2019, available online:
project-based learning, second language learning, second language pedagogy, German
Dressler, R., Raedler, B., Dimitrov, K., Dressler, A., & Krause, G. (2020). Project-based learning in the advanced German class.In G. Beckett & T. Slater (Eds.), Global perspectives on project-based language learning, teaching, and assessment (pp. 69-84). doi:10.4324/9780429435096