Initiating a Learning Project

Defining and starting a project with clarity and creativity
Made by PMIEF
Earn Graduate Credit
Graduate-level credit is available for this micro-credential. You can apply for credit through one of our university partners after successfully completing the micro-credential.
Learn More About Graduate Credit

About this Micro-credential

Key Method

Establishing essential roles and agreements for team members, and identifying the project type (or types) and their useful learning strategies

Method Components

Note: Though this micro-credential focuses on one phase of a learning project, it is best to have students complete a whole project and focus on the competencies involved in this particular phase of the project cycle in preparing your submission.

Getting a project started on the path to success involves being clear about the project’s goals and expected results, the roles each person will play, and the learning strategies needed. These elements of initiating and defining a project can be captured in four documents: a Project Definition statement, a Project Players list, a Team Agreement, and a Project Methods checklist.

Initiating a Learning Project elements:

Suggested Preparation

Student project teams can brainstorm, discuss, and list what they think are the most important steps in starting any kind of project, and what can be done up front to make sure the project goes well; they can then share and compare their lists.

Introducing the Initiating Project Phase

Introducing, showing examples, and discussing the four types of beginning project records that students can use to help organize their learning projects can be a helpful start to the project cycle:

  • Project Definition: setting the goals, activities and desired results of the project
  • Project Players List: identifying the roles necessary for a successful project
  • Team Agreement: deciding on the roles, ground rules and expectations everyone will follow in the project
  • Project Methods Checklist: identifying the type or types of projects involved and the important learning strategies associated with each project type

The Project Definition

Student project teams can write a Project Definition with answers to questions such as:

  • Why is the project needed? (What need does it serve and who will benefit?)
  • What is the project about? (A brief description of what the project will do)
  • What is the major goal of the project? (Also, what are some minor goals?)
  • What is the driving question, problem, issue, or perspective that motivates the project?
  • What will be the results? (Deliverables, artifacts, reports, presentations, etc.)
  • What will the project not do, even if it could be done easily? (Focus!)
  • When will the project need to be completely finished?
  • Where will the project work be done?
  • What resources are needed to do the project? (Equipment, tools, materials, funding, technology, online resources, experts, coaches/mentors, etc.)
  • How will the project be evaluated? (Quality of work and results, lessons learned, effectiveness of the project processes)
  • What risks are involved in the project? (Events or conditions that may delay or impact the project work or outcomes)
  • What are the team’s learning goals and needs? (For each individual team member and for the entire team)

The Project Players List

Student teams can fill out a Project Players List based on the following table:
(Please download the full micro-credential to see the aforementioned table.)

The Team Agreement

Student project teams can write and sign a Team Agreement (also see the “Productive Teamwork” Digital Promise Educator Micro-credential) including answers to questions such as:

  • What are the team goals?
  • What are each member’s strengths, expertise, and preferences?
  • What roles will each team member play?
  • How and when will the team communicate and meet with each other?
  • How will outside experts, coaches, and advisors be used?
  • How will decisions be made?
  • How will project changes be handled?
  • What are the guidelines for team behavior and interaction?
  • How will the team help each person reach her/his personal learning goals?

The Project Methods Checklist

Student teams can decide the type or types of project (Inquiry, Design, Debate, and Personal Expression) they will undertake, and can highlight the learning methods and strategies they think will be most helpful for their project type(s) throughout the phases of the project (also see the “Choosing Learning Strategies” Digital Promise Educator Micro-credential):
(Please download the full micro-credential to see the aforementioned table.)

Suggested Review Activities

  • Student teams can share their project ideas, definitions and agreements by presenting them to other teams, getting their feedback, and incorporating suggestions into their defining and initiating documents.
  • Students can discuss what they think will be the most challenging parts of their project, the most enjoyable parts, and what they will do to have great teamwork and successful results.

Research & Resources

Supporting Research

Clearly defining and setting common expectations and understandings at the beginning of a learning project is essential to having a successful, smooth-running and learning-rich project. Creating and using guiding documents upfront in a project, such as a Project Definition, a Project Players List, a Team Agreement, and a Project Methods Checklist, can help a project get off to a solid start.

  • Project Management Institute Educational Foundation. “Foundational Guide – Project Management for Learning.”, PMIEF, 27 May 2014. Web. 15 Oct. 2015
  • Heagney, Joseph. Fundamentals of Project Management. 4th ed. New York: AMACOM, 2011. Print.


Submission Requirements

Submission Guidelines and Evaluation Criteria

Following are the items to submit and the criteria by which they will be evaluated. In each category an applicant can earn 3, 2 or 1 points. To earn a micro-credential an applicant must earn at least 17 points and cannot receive a score of 1 in more than one category (see scoring rubric below).

Part 1. Educator 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 applying the project’s defining and initiating strategies to improve learning and project success? Please describe the learning activities and strategies you used.
  • Activity Evaluation: How do you know your students increased their proficiency by engaging in the Initiating and Defining a Learning Project activities, and what evidence did you collect that demonstrates these learning gains?

Part 2. Student Work Examples/Artifacts

Please submit examples of student work from two students (writing, audio, images, video, etc.) that demonstrate progress toward the Initiating and Defining a Learning Project competency.

Part 3. Student reflections

(200-word limit for each response)

For the two students whose work examples were included above, submit their student-created reflections on the Initiating & Defining a Learning Project activities they experienced. Use the following questions as guidance:

  • How did the defining and initiating project cycle activities and guiding documents produced help you be a better project team member and enable your team to produce better project results?
  • How did the defining and initiating 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. Educator reflection

(200-word limit for each response)

Provide a reflection on what you learned, using the following questions as guidance:

  • What was the impact of engaging your students in the Initiating and Defining a Learning Project activities?
  • How will experiencing these project activities shape your daily future teaching practice?

Submission Guidelines and Evaluation criteria scoring rubric

This scoring rubric reflects each of the submission guidelines described above, and passing criteria for each. To see this rubric, please download the full version of the micro-credential.

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.
How to prepare for and earn this micro-credential - in a downloadable PDF document

Ready to get started?