Project-based learning engages students in practical activities related to course content and has been demonstrated to improve academic performance. Due to its reported benefits, this form of active learning was incorporated with an ongoing research project into an introductory, graduate-level Musical Acoustics course at the Peabody Institute of The Johns Hopkins University. Students applied concepts from the course to characterize a contact sensor with a polymer diaphragm for musical instrument recording. Assignments throughout the semester introduced students to completing a literature review, planning an experiment, collecting and analyzing data, and presenting results. While students were given broad goals to understand the performance of the contact sensor compared to traditional microphones, they were allowed independence in determining the specific methods used. The efficacy of the course framework and research project was assessed with student feedback provided through open-ended prompts and Likert-type survey questions. Overall, the students responded positively to the project-based learning and demonstrated mastery of the course learning objectives. The work provides a possible framework for instructors considering using project-based learning through research in their own course designs.

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