College and Career

Pathways System

Initiative: Industry-infused Project-based Learning

Industry-Infused Project-Based Learning

Industry-Infused Project-Based Learning is a locally developed model of project-based learning. Development of this model was led by Elkhart County’s Business-Education Roundtables as a means to bring relevant, authentic content from local industry sectors into the classroom.

The Roundtable participants believed it was vital that career readiness was fully integrated within the classroom, based on evidence that core content and standards can often be more effectively taught through project-based learning methodologies.

To learn more about industry-infused project-based learning, watch this video.

Dr. Byron Ernest, Secretary of the Indiana State Board of Education, speaks at the HEA Student Pathways Showcase in June 2018. He talks about the importance of education and business partnerships that create relevant learning opportunities for students.

The Challenge

National polls of student engagement consistently show student engagement in school drops considerably in the high school years. Students often question the connection between the content they are learning in their high school classes and their future lives and careers.

This is particularly true for students who have not identified a clear pathway after high school or for students that believe they will pursue a local job directly out of high school.

The Solution

Project-based learning responds to both of these challenges by more fully engaging students in an active learning process and integrating relevant skills and knowledge from local career pathways into the classroom content. Students are more engaged in their learning and are better prepared for whatever pathway they pursue upon graduation.

As part of the local career pathways system, project-based learning helps expose students to multiple career options and prepare students to enter into pathway programs while in high school, such as internships, job shadowing, or certification programs.

Indicators of Success


52 educators and 31 business partners, including school superintendents, principals, teachers, business CEOs and other representatives, are participating in the intensive 10-month Roundtables process this year.


In a survey of participating students, 90% of students agreed or strongly agreed that “I have gained an understanding of how the academic content we learned is important in the business world” through the project.


In a survey with a sample of teachers that implemented project-based learning (PBL), 90% of teachers reported that PBL was an effective or very effective tool for improving students’ ability to connect learning to the real world and 80% believe it was an important tool to help students connect learning to a future career.


100% of teachers felt PBL was an effective strategy for developing students’ skills in communication and creativity.

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How You Can Help

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History of Industry-Infused Project Based-Learning

The Business-Education Roundtables have supported the development and implementation of Industry-Infused Project-Based Learning (PBL), an innovative and unique model that responds directly to the needs of our local economy.

In 2016, 70 teachers were trained to implement this model of PBL. As part of the process, 50 business partners worked with teachers to develop and plan their PBL units. In addition, 14 teachers participated in an advanced “train-the-trainer” training to develop our community’s capacity for the industry-infused PBL model.

In 2017, the Business-Education Roundtables model was re-designed to focus on providing support to pairs of educators and business partners to design and implement an authentic project. Roundtable participants engage in a series of exchanges at businesses and at schools to identify and shape project ideas. Career pathways projects are then implemented in classrooms with students during the spring semester. Project showcases at the end of the year allow for countywide sharing of successes.