PBL Process: Why Knows, Need to Knows and Next Steps?

You can start a new project with a sense of excitement and tribulation. You are going to engage the students in content you love and you’ve finally started that project you’ve planned, resourced and poured yourself into over the last number of weeks (often months!). However, there is always that little voice asking how are my students going to be directed?

This is where Knows, Need to Knows and Next Steps can help. When planning the project, it’s critical for you to know the Need to Knows you want your students to pull out of the entry document and progressing through the project. This is why it’s a good idea to have the project critical friended by people not in your department. This gives you a more authentic list. This list is what the students use to direct their learning through the PBL process. Students shift the Needs to Know over to the Knows list by articulating the processes on the Next Steps list. By working through these Next Steps students are working through the course outcomes.

It is important for a teacher to start and end the class with the Knows and Need to Knows lists. By addressing the Knows and Need to Knows lists at the start of the lesson, it gives the students direction. Addressing the Knows and Need to Knows lists at the end of the class allows you to know what the students learnt. You do this by moving Need to Knows to the knows list.

So how can we conduct Knows and Need to Knows lists? Here are some resources that may be helpful:


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