What’s Challenge Based Learning?

June 27, 2020
Challenge based learning is one of the new active learning methodologies. In this article, you’ll discover its main characteristics, as well as its benefits. Read on!

Challenge based learning (CBL) is a pedagogical approach that aims to generate active, real, and meaningful learning. Thus, learning is planned and organized around a challenge or problematic situation for which the student must find possible solutions.

Main characteristics of challenge based learning (CBL)

CBL is related to other active learning methodologies, such as project-based learning, problem-based learning, or experiential learning. As in these methodologies, CBL focuses on the student’s activities so that they achieve deep reasoning, along with effective participation in their own learning process.

As we mentioned above, the goal of a methodology based on challenges is for students to analyze and evaluate different solutions to respond to a series of challenges. In addition, it’s a methodology that can be adapted to different ages and educational levels. In fact, there are schoolwork experiences with this method from elementary to university levels.

The importance of CBL is that it requires the integration of different knowledge and, therefore, of different subjects. It consists of methodical study and research actions. In addition, it creates collaborative and cooperative learning that integrates different positions and opinions of all class members.

What’s Challenge Based Learning?

Regarding the educator, they fulfill the role of expert, guide, mediator, and facilitator of information. The educator is the one who encourages the participation of all the students and who guides the steps to be followed within the general structure of the approach.

Main benefits of the CBL methodology

Here are some of the main benefits of working with the challenge based learning methodology in the classroom:

  • Allows students to analyze a problem in a more complex and comprehensive way, relating different variables to each other and to specific contexts.
  • Helps develop creativity and imagination in the search for possible solutions.
  • Puts students in contact with problematic situations typical of their environment, community, or closest reality.
  • Achieves collaborative and interdisciplinary work as a way to address the challenges posed.
  • Establishes a more real connection between academic content and specific life situations.
  • Develops communication, research skills, competencies, listening, and empathy to understand diverse opinions and positions.
  • Fosters in students a positive attitude towards learning, while respecting their autonomy.

Challenge of challenge-based learning…

The main purpose of a challenge-based learning methodology is to allow students to learn significantly when they face a problem. Students must be able to approach it with a critical and analytical perspective to find solutions.

However, the challenge of challenge based learning is to achieve collaboration between students. It’s about promoting cooperative work in which students share information, dialogue and discuss different topics, and reach consensual agreements.

In short, communicative exchange and the development of social skills is, surely, the main challenge of this methodology. For this purpose, the debate of ideas and opinions is fundamental for a deep analysis of the problem and for decision-making, and even more so when it comes to real problems that resemble students’ life experiences.

  • Fidalgo-Blanco, Á., García-Peñalvo, F. J. y  Sein-Echaluce Lacleta, M. L. (2017). Aprendizaje Basado en Retos en una asignatura académica universitaria. Recuperado de  https://repositorio.grial.eu/bitstream/grial/885/1/283-1076-1-PB.pdf
  • Poot-Delgado, C. A. (2013). Retos del aprendizaje basado en problemas. Enseñanza e investigación en psicología18(2), 307-314. Recuperado de https://www.redalyc.org/pdf/292/29228336007.pdf
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