Managing Project Cycles

Knowing and practicing the essential activities of each stage of a project improves both student learning and outcomes of learning projects.
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About this Micro-credential

Key Method

Identifying and carrying out the key activities in each stage of a learning project, through the four phases of defining, planning, doing, and reviewing, helps improve project results, develop collaborative processes, and encourage deeper student learning.

Method Components

As students explore a new topic, the educator leads them through the four phases of managing project cycles. This process can be conducted individually, in small groups, or in whole-group instruction. These strategies can be deployed as a stand-alone activity or as part of a lesson.

Phases of managing project cycles

  • Defining: establishing the goals, activities, and desired results of the project
    • Suggested activities include:
      • Students write a project definition including answers to such questions as:
      • Why is the project needed? What is the goal?
      • What will be the end results (deliverables)?
      • What type of learning project is this (inquiry, design, debate, expression, self-development, or combination, see the Learning Project Practices micro-credentials on these project types)?
      • What is the driving question, problem, issue, perspective, or development that motivates the project?
      • When and where will the project need to be done?
      • What resources are needed to do the project?
      • How will the project be evaluated?
      • What risks are involved in the project?
    • If working in teams, students write and sign a Team Agreement (see the Productive Teamwork micro-credential) that includes answers to such questions as:
      • What are the team's goals?
      • What are each member's strengths, expertise, and preferences?
      • How and when will the team communicate and meet?
      • How will outside experts, coaches, and advisors be used?
      • How will decisions be made?
  • Planning: creating a plan for the flow of activities, roles, and resources for the project
  • Suggested activities include:
    • Students create a work plan that includes such items as:
    • A list of project tasks, the order in which the tasks must be completed, the deadline for each task, and the task owner
    • The resources needed for each task (materials, tools, funding, expertise, etc.)
  • Doing: carrying out the project plans and making changes as needed
    • Suggested activities include:
      • Students have regular check-ins to answer questions such as:
        • What has each team member completed recently?
        • What is each member working on now?
        • When does each member think the current task he or she is working on will be done?
        • What does each member need to keep the work on track with good quality?

    Suggested preparation

    • Introduce and discuss the four project stages students will be using to help organize their projects and explain that the sequence is not hard and fast, jumping around these stages during a project is very common.
    • Students discuss what they think are the most important steps in doing any kind of project and organize these steps into a few general project stages.

    Suggested review

    • Students review, reflect, and summarize their evaluations of:
      • The project results, the quality and usefulness of what was produced in the project
      • Learning outcomes, what skills, understandings, and mindsets were learned during the project
      • Project processes, how well the team or individual student worked through all the project stages
    • Students celebrate project successes and lessons learned.

Research & Resources

Supporting Research

Knowing that all projects follow a project cycle consisting of four stages - defining, planning, doing, and reviewing, each with differing tasks and activities helps both teachers and students better manage learning projects.


Submission Requirements

Submission Guidelines & Evaluation Criteria

Following are the items you must submit to earn this micro-credential and the criteria by which they will be evaluated. To earn this micro-credential, you must receive a passing evaluation for Parts 1, 3, and 4 and a “Yes” for Part 2.

Part 1. Overview questions

(200-word limit for each response)

  • Activity Description: What kind of project activities did you and your students engage in to become more proficient in managing project cycle stages to improve learning? Please describe the learning activities and strategies you used.
  • Activity Evaluation: How do you know your students increased their proficiency by engaging in the managing project cycles activities and what evidence did you collect that demonstrates these learning gains?

Part 2. Evidence/artifacts

Please submit work examples from two students (such as links to writing, audio, images, video, or other media) that demonstrate progress toward the managing project cycles competency, including such items as examples of project definitions, team agreements, work plans, notes from check-ins, project evaluations, presentations on the results of the project, and other relevant items.

Part 3. Student reflections

For the two students whose work examples were included above, submit student-created reflections on their experience of the managing project cycles activities. Use the following questions as a guide (200-word limit for each reflection):

  • How did the project cycle activities and guiding documents help you be a better project team member and help your team produce better project results?
  • How did the project cycle strategies change your views on how projects work and how you can use projects to motivate your learning in the future?

Part 4. Teacher reflection

Provide a reflection on what you learned, using the following questions as a guide (200-word limit):

  • What was the impact of engaging your students in the managing project cycles activity?
  • How will experiencing these project activities shape your daily teaching practice in the future?

Except where otherwise noted, this work is licensed under:
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)


Download to access the requirements and scoring guide for this micro-credential.
Requirements for Managing Project Cycles
How to prepare for and earn this micro-credential - in a downloadable PDF document

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