Challenge-based Learning in Courses: The Implementation Continuum

Adina Imanbayeva*, Robin S. de Graaf, Cindy L. Poortman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper

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Given the increasing criticality and complexity of societal challenges, higher education institutions are urged to equip students with the ability to develop sustainable solutions for 'wicked' problems. Consequently, the Challenge-based Learning (CBL) framework has attracted considerable interest in higher engineering education. However, transforming existing course curricula to CBL is a challenging endeavour since it requires careful and paced execution for maintaining the quality, synergy, and flow of existing education. Therefore, this paper proposes a perspective on CBL implementation that exemplifies a gradual transition towards educational CBL innovation while reflecting on the alignment, consistency, and coherence educators aspire to when designing courses. Accordingly, we introduce a CBL implementation continuum as a conceptual model, which connects CBL elements to Van den Akker’s Spider Web for curriculum design and describes a continuum of Mild, Moderate, and Intense CBL levels per Spider Web component. Moreover, the paper describes an online CBL implementation tool, which helps educators thoughtfully evaluate the current level of CBL in their courses and provides practical recommendations for a transition towards higher levels of CBL intensity.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2023
Event51st Annual Conference of the European Society for Engineering Education, SEFI 2023: Engineering education for sustainability: Reflecting on the role of engineering and technology education for a sustainable world - TU Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
Duration: 11 Sept 202314 Sept 2023
Conference number: 51


Conference51st Annual Conference of the European Society for Engineering Education, SEFI 2023
Abbreviated titleSEFI 2023
Internet address


  • challenge-based learning
  • higher education
  • Course design
  • implementation
  • educational innovation


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