Challenge-Based Learning: Everything You Need to Know

This model is also comparable to both problem and project-based learning methods. However, it was only developed in recent times and integrates 21st-century skills into the problem-based learning method. In this type of learning approach, students are required to carve out their own answers to a difficult problem/concept, clearly showing their thought processes.

One unique feature of challenge-based learning is it’s the integration of technical skills that would open students’ minds up to how to solve complex real-life problems, rather than only engaging in critical thinking (as with the previously described models). Thus, students can use rich media creation tools, computers, the internet, and mobile devices for content, communication, and accessing information. As such, challenge-based learning extends the concepts engaged in via other approaches.

Challenge-based learning starts with a big idea and flows through the following steps:

·         The essential question

·         The challenge and why it’s important

·         Guiding questions, activities, and resources to search for a solution

·         Determining and articulating the solution

·         Taking action by applying the solution

·         Evaluation

·         Making the solution public and sharing it with the world

·         Student reflection about what they have learned about the process, content, and overall experience, followed by an informative assessment

Teacher involvement throughout the process of challenge-based learning is vital. However, its nature varies as students move forward through its stages. Early on, after the teacher has introduced the model to his students and set up the challenge, he’ll make decisions, teach skills, pass on information, and answer questions about how the process works and what’s expected of the students. However, students will take charge in the middle stages, where they research and create plans on their own. The teacher’s job is to primarily act as a mentor or a project manager to help students overcome obstacles and stay on track.

During the later stages, students become deeply engrossed in their own work. The teacher’s responsibility is to ensure they have mastered the necessary knowledge and skills through proper assessments. Finally, the teacher will take the role of a product manager to support the students as they execute, assess, and publish their solutions and results.

Challenge-based learning focuses on exploring topics from different angles and through the lens of various disciplines. This helps students realize the natural links between subject areas that might not always be obvious. Consequently, challenge-based learning works particularly well when teachers from diverse disciplines work together. When teachers collaborate with other teachers, the entire approach becomes extremely enjoyable and beneficial, encouraging their own professional growth and development.

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