Designing Challenge-based Education

Tailor-made CBE 
Challenge-based Education can widely vary in intensity and duration. Educators can utilize the CBE framework in several ways, ranging from embedding a few aspects in existing courses to designing complete courses founded on the CBE framework. The design and implementation of CBE depends on the course’s intended learning outcomes, available resources and student composition.

Adapting CBE to specific contexts

For example, an educator can choose to embed a pre-defined challenge in an existing course. In this case, only one disciplinary lens is used to view the challenge and solutions developed need not be tested in an authentic setting. These shorter bursts of challenge-based education are termed as nano-challenges by Nichols, Cator & Torres (2016).

The scope of CBE broadens to include greater student autonomy and different disciplinary perspectives in mini, standard, capstone and strategic challenges. While mini challenges last 2-4 weeks, standard challenges can span more than a month. Capstone challenges additionally culminate in an academic milestone for the student e.g. a project that contributes to a thesis for graduation.

CBE can be also utilized as a tool outside an educational context to help define an organisation’s mission and vision. Strategic challenges can be used by institutions to help develop a common vision and language to fructify their strategic plans.

 This list is an only an indication of ways in which CBE can be implemented in different contexts. This framework can be further adapted to suit specific contexts.

Within ENLIGHT, educators have drawn inspiration from the framework to design over 30 blended intensive programmes (see the competence framework to know more about ENLIGHT courses and programmes).

An example of CBE design

In the following video you will hear Elise Meerburg and Evelyne de Caluwé, educational developers from Ghent University, relate their experiences of planning and implementing a CBE course. The “Interdisciplinary Study of the Climate Neutral City” is a blended intensive programme in which students apply insights from different academic disciplines on issues of climate change adaptation and mitigation in the city of Ghent. The course carried the weight of 5 ECTS and was piloted in the spring of 2022 with 45 students (5 students from each ENLIGHT partner university).