Challenge-Based Learning Template


What Is “Challenge-Based Learning”?

“Challenge-Based Learning is an engaging multidisciplinary approach to teaching and learning that encourages students to leverage the technology they use in their daily lives to solve real-world problems. Challenge-Based Learning is collaborative and hands-on, asking students to work with other students, their teachers, and experts in their communities and around the world to develop deeper knowledge of the subjects students are studying, accept and solve challenges, take action, share their experience, and enter into a global discussion about important issues” (

“Young people are not blind to the world’s problems. They are aware that the world economy is in a dangerous and delicate condition, and they have a clear sense of what a collapse would mean — to themselves, their families and friends, and to people across the country and around the globe. They realize that the planet’s temperature is climbing, slowly but perceptibly, and that they may see the effects of that change in their lifetime” (


[Teacher Provided] Theme:

Step One: Asking Essential Questions

Students must ask questions about this topic that interest them. Questions should:

  • Make the topic personal. How does this “big idea” affect you, your friends, family, and/or community?
  • Ask tough questions. Go beneath the surface. Avoid questions that have simple or begin with the words who, what, and where.
  • Drive the challenges that you will be focusing on for this project.

As a group, all students should generate essential questions that reflect their interest in this “big idea.” These essential questions will help the group to focus on the aspects of this big idea that interest them most. Discussion of this theme and generation of essential questions will take place in the online discussion forum. Each group will discuss and then submit one strong essential question per member of the group. The area of focus within this larger theme will be evident from the strong essential questions.

Teacher Options for Online Discussion Questions:

  • Post a question using the Forum question type for each group such as, What is your essential question?. Defend your question by explaining why you think it will drive a personal topic. Reply to at least one member of your group to compliment their question or suggest a way to improve it.
  • In groups, ask students to post their essential questions and vote on the strongest questions presented by the group about their topic using the Vote or Suggest topic type. They should also provide constructive criticism for at least one group member’s question.
  • Ask a question like, Are you satisfied with your essential question? Is it strong, well developed and personal? using the Yes/No question type. Students will then answer “yes” or “no” and provide feedback for at least one student who needs help developing his or her question.

Essential Questions Due: _______


Step Two: Identify the Challenges

From each essential question, a challenge is articulated that asks students to create a specific answer or solution that can result in concrete, meaningful action. Each member of the group must articulate the challenge that is presented by their essential question. Groups should then discuss these challenges to provide direction, insights, suggestions, etc. for one another.

Online Discussion Questions

Within their groups, students will discuss the best way to articulate each of their challenges. They will each post a challenge that relates to their essential question and suggest ways to modify the challenges of their peers.

  • Students must post the challenge they identified for their essential question as a Forum question. After posting their challenge, they should provide their group members with quality feedback.

Challenges Articulated By: _______


Step Three: Generating Guiding Questions

Students must brainstorm need-to-know questions about their challenge(s). What do they need to know to find an answer to their essential question or design a creative solution to your challenge? Questions should:

  • Be focused on the essential question. Unlike the essential question, these questions are not personal.
  • Drive research and keep students focused.
  • Have research-based answers.

Have the students present and discuss their guiding questions as a group. Students should help each other generate quality questions that will drive research.

Teacher Options for Online Discussion Questions:

  • Each group will post their guiding questions as a Forum question and provide peer feedback to ensure that each guiding question is specific and research-based. Students must then refine their questions to be put up for vote.
  • Students will repost their refined guiding questions as a Vote or Suggest topic and each group will vote to choose the strongest questions to drive their research.

Guiding Questions Due: _______


Step Four: Research and Guiding Activities

As a group, students will help each other gather research and design activities that will help them answer their guiding questions. Students will need to combine traditional research with inventive activities to complete this step.

  • Research online, identifying credible sources.
  • Research in a library.
  • Generate their own activities to collect information or data.
  • Interview students, community members, experts, etc.

MLA works cited with a minimum of 3 resources and evidence of at least one innovative activity must be generated during this process.

Teacher Options for Online Discussion Questions:

  • Create a Multiple Choice question asking students what type of research they have found valuable. They can choose from:
    • Online
    • Library
    • Their own activities
    • Interviews and explain their choice
  • Ask a Yes/No question that asks students to evaluate a resource (attach a PDF or provide a link to a website) and vote on whether they think it is a credible resource. They should support their answer with a detailed justification for their position.
  • Ask students to dialogue about the research they are finding/collecting and allow them to discuss that research by posting a Forum question. This will ensure they focus on the strongest research found by the group.

Evidence of Research Due: _______


Step Five: Mini-Research Paper

Using a combination of the resources above, students will write a mini research paper that presents and analyzes their research and provides answers to their guiding questions. Research papers must include:

  • An introduction with a hook that must grab the reader’s interest in relation to their topic. Intrigue your reader!
  • A thesis, which should clearly present the challenge they have identified.
  • 3 to 5 body paragraphs that discuss the research they found in relation to their guiding questions. These paragraphs vary in length depending on the research.
  • A conclusion that presents the reader with their innovative solution(s) to meet challenge and encourages action.

Teacher Options for Online Discussion Questions:

  • Students will post their best quotes/pieces of research for the rest of their group to review and generate analysis by posting a Forum question. This will help them develop commentary in their mini research paper.
  • Posting a Multiple Choice question can also test the students’ knowledge of proper citation (in-text and reference).

Research Paper Due: _______


Step Six: Multimedia Solution

Students must design and implement a real world solution to meet the challenges their group identified. Each team will need to design, implement and provide evidence of the implementation that can be published. Each group will need to create a video, webinar, website, power point presentation, etc. that introduces their challenge(s), and then present their solution. This may be an informational webinar focused on educating the public about the topic or a video inspiring teens to act locally to combat a growing problem.

The solution will be assessed for its connection to the challenge, accuracy of the content included, clarity of communication, applicability for implementation, and effectiveness of solution.  This final product will receive a group grade, so it is crucial that each group works together to educate the public about their issue(s), the challenge(s) identified as well as the solutions proposed.

Solution Published as a Multimedia Project Due: _______


Step Seven: Presentation

Groups will post their Multimedia Projects for the class to view and comment on. Groups should use the Forum question type to post their projects for feedback from the class. Once students have had a chance to view and comment on each other’s work, the teacher can then create a Multiple Choice question with all of the groups’ projects listed to allow students to vote for their favorite project.


Step Eight: Reflection

Students must conclude the project by writing a 500 to 750 word reflection on their experience/project and post it to the Forum question. Discuss the challenges, rewards, unexpected outcomes, etc.

  • What did you learn from this project?
  • Did you enjoy working with a group? Why or why not?
  • Did you enjoy creating your multimedia presentation?
  • How did other students respond to your solutions?
  • What are your thoughts on your peers’ projects?
  • Would you suggest any improvements to the project in general? What would make it a more successful project from a student perspective?

Read and respond thoughtfully to your peers.