Research Findings . . .  

Students who will succeed in their lives and careers should study some fundamental subjects in high school. They should study computer science, civics, history, math, chemistry, physics, writing, and project management.

Wait, how did project management make that list? After all, how many high schools teach the skills needed to plan and manage complex projects? That is a good question. In many cases, project management kind of sneaks in when a teacher of another subject has the ability to guide students as they plan their research, group assignments, and writing of papers.

What Is Project Management?

In most cases, project management (PM) means that students plan projects as carefully as they can, rather than just diving in. It means deploying resources appropriately, dividing up work when completing group assignments, and setting specific goals and deadlines. When students learn to manage projects well, they also learn the great skill of flexibility, which comes from adjusting expectations, work assignments, goals and deadlines while work is in progress.

Those observations alone should explain why the experience of managing complex projects teaches students valuable life skills that can be applied later in their working lives. To name just a few:

  • In business, PM skills are essential for contributing to team projects and work, for supervising groups of employees, and of course for managing all the complex projects that are part of professional life. If a company is expanding into a new region of the country, for example, it needs people who know how to plan and implement all the processes involved.
  • In science, PM skills are essential for planning and conducting research of all kinds.
  • In all engineering fields, PM skills are needed to define problems and processes, set goals, and plan how to reach them.
  • In creative careers in the visual, literary, musical, and theatrical arts, professionals need PM skills to conceptualize, plan, and execute their projects.
  • In “hard” fields like construction, PM skills are needed to plan and coordinate complex plans for building structures of all kinds.
  • In teaching and education, PM skills are especially critical for planning curricula, building lesson plans, setting structured deadlines for classes, deciding when to require tests and research papers, deciding how grades will be determined, and handling a myriad of other details.

Those are only a few examples of how students will apply their PM abilities in their working lives. In fact, it is difficult to think of a career where those skills are not needed. PM skills can improve the effectiveness of carpenters, landscapers, physicians, plumbers, salespeople, store owners and zookeepers. Every professional needs them.

The State of Project Management Learning in Schools Today

Here are some findings from the Career Pathways and 21st Century Skills survey of 35,410 students that was conducted in the fall of 2018 by the Student Research Foundation:

  • Only 25% of all students reported that they had been taught PM skills in high school . . . yet 90% stated that they would value them
  • 27% of male students reported that they had learned PM skills in high school . . . and only 21% of female students
  • 26% of “A” students reported they had learned PM skills in high school . . . .but only 21% of “C” students
  • 55% of all students feel that PM skills would be helpful in their careers . . . an opinion shared equally by students of all ethnic backgrounds and races
  • 62% of CTE students place a high career value on PM skills . . . and so do 56% of students in AP classes

To Learn More about College & Career Preparedness

We invite all students to explore their college & career options by participating in our career and college research studies. Students who complete the free career test for high school students will receive information on college and career opportunities that match their interests.

Learn Project Management Skills in High School - Student Research Foundation