Clare Gormley

Challenge-Based Learning: Strategies for Sectoral Challenges


Challenge-Based Learning (CBL) is coming to prominence in higher education as an approach that can potentially help prepare students for tackling the complex issues of our time (Kukulska-Hulme et al., 2023). CBL could be described as ‘a process of collaborative engagement with peers, academics, and stakeholders to develop solutions to real-world social, technological, environmental and economic challenges of urgency and significance. CBL is a distinctively learner-driven pedagogy where learners, with the support of academics, define the dimensions of the challenge to be worked on. Throughout the process learners are given opportunities to acquire the necessary knowledge and skills to propose solutions for the challenge in question.’ (DCU CBL Working Group, 2022)

However as it stands today, conceptualisations of CBL remain mixed. The reality is that many institutions and educators are interpreting CBL and adapting it for their own context. Frameworks of common characteristics of CBL are being developed (Gallagher and Savage, 2020; Van den Beemt et al., 2022) which helps to promote a shared language around this pedagogy. However educators, particularly those who are new to implementing CBL, are asking for more practical guidance on what the key characteristics of CBL are, how they might look in different contexts, and how they might evolve over time.

This presentation will consider some of the questions that need to be asked to develop a common framework for implementing CBL across the sector. It will also describe the process that has been started to explore potential pathways for CBL at DCU and will issue an invitation to future collaboration in this space.

Challenge-Based Learning Clare Gormley – Presentation Slides


Gallagher, S.E. and Savage, T. (2020) ‘Challenge-based learning in higher education: an exploratory literature review’, Teaching in Higher Education, 0(0), pp. 1–23. Available at:

Kukulska-Hulme, A., Bossu, C., Charitonos, K., Coughlan, T., Deacon, A., Deane, N., Ferguson, R., Herodotou, C., Huang, C-W., Mayisela, T., Rets, I., Sargent, J., Scanlon, E., Small, J., Walji, S., Weller, M., & Whitelock, D. (2023). Innovating Pedagogy 2023: Open University Innovation Report 11. Milton Keynes: The Open University. Available at:

van den Beemt, A., van de Watering, G. and Bots, M. (2022) ‘Conceptualising variety in challenge-based learning in higher education: the CBL-compass’, European Journal of Engineering Education, pp. 1–18. Available at:

Clare Gormley is a Senior Academic Developer with DCU Teaching Enhancement Unit who has worked in education since 1996. She is currently undertaking an EdD in Digital Learning focused on the topic of Challenge-Based Learning. She supports the professional learning of staff who are implementing CBL at DCU and as part of that remit is also Chair of the DCU CBL Working Group. Clare is also a Senior Fellow of Advance HE (SFHEA) and a Fellow of the Staff and Educational Development Association (FSEDA). She has also published in a range of peer-reviewed journals on innovative professional learning in higher education.

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