The Table below compares Project Based Learning and Design Thinking vis-à-vis features, processes, and assessment. This is a distillation from several sources in both areas. There’s great overlap between the two methodologies. This is because both focus on collaborative projects addressing real world challenges. There are some differences. Design Thinking, while project based, makes significant use of imagination, visual expression, creativity, and prototyping. To be effective in either methodology, good social and emotional skills are also needed.
Both Project Based Learning and Design Thinking are rooted in proven workplace practices. More specifically, professionals in both fields saw the need to adapt these practices for use in K-12 schools. This introductory effort has been growing over the past decade. It now involves large corporations, universities, and networks of primary and elementary schools. There are also non-profit organizations, like Edutopia, promoting these related methodologies via conferences, online communities of practice, and resource materials.