Challenge-Based Learning


Co-dependent, goal-oriented action among learners

Principal Metaphors

  • Knowledge is … scope of possible actions and interpretations
  • Knowing is … doing
  • Learner is … an evolving collective
  • Learning is … developing understanding while through application and exploration
  • Teaching is … facilitating, guiding




Challenge-Based Learning is a hands-on model of collaboration, focused on addressing real-world issues. There are three main stages in the framework: engaging (questioning, naming an actionable challenge), investigating (planning and proceeding), and acting (implementing and evaluating). All stages involve collaboration, documentation, reflection, and sharing.


Challenge-Based Learning appears to be an appropriation and branding (by Apple Inc.) of Inquiry-Based Learning.

Authors and/or Prominent Influences

Apple Inc.

Status as a Theory of Learning

Challenge-Based Learning is not a theory of learning.

Status as a Theory of Teaching

Challenge-Based Learning is explicitly a theory of teaching.

Status as a Scientific Theory

Challenge-Based Learning is associated with a few studies that have shown to positively affect student engagement while meeting curriculum standards and supporting the development of interpersonal skills. At the moment, the evidence falls short of meeting the criteria of scientific theory. However, the profound similarities between Challenge-Based Learning and Inquiry-Based Learning, Problem-Based Learning, and Project-Based Learning suggest that a level of “scientific theory” is warranted.

Map Location

Please cite this article as:
Davis, B., & Francis, K. (2019). “Challenge-Based Learning” in Discourses on Learning in Education.

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