Challenge Based Learning

What is Challenge Based Learning (CBL)?

It is a pedagogical approach that actively engages students in a situation that is real, relevant and related to their environment, which involves defining a challenge and implementing a solution.

Challenge-based learning offers many possible benefits from establishing new teaching and learning practices which are aligned with work-life environments and increasing employability for students. Authentic learning experiences allow students to explore, discuss, and meaningfully construct concepts and relationships in contexts that involve real-life challenges and projects that are relevant to the learner.


The DCU Hack4Change Social Innovation Series was a series of five day-long hackathons hosted for University students from March 9-13th 2020. Each day had a designated theme (Mental Health & Wellbeing, Fast Fashion, Smarter Travel and Climate Action & Sustainability; Inclusivity and Diversity) with students self-selecting to the theme that interested them. Student teams were helped to develop viable ideas that could address a specific challenge within their designated theme.
Students worked on research and ideation, assisted by a set of informative prompts and a
customized HackCanvas created by University staff. Academic and practicing specialists were brought in to provide the students with expert insight and mentorship. Over the course of the week, over 90 experts delivered keynote sessions and ‘lightning’ talks, provided small-group mentoring to help the student teams develop and refine their ideas, and judged pitch presentations held at the end of each day.

Embedding Student-Centred Learning within DCU’s Biomedical Engineering Programme

The project is focused on curriculum development within the Biomedical Engineering Programme in the School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering and specifically on embedding student-centred challenge-based learning within our programme. The initial focus of this project is on a masters level module 'Biomechanics of Tissue Engineering' which teaches students the principles of tissue engineering and the application of biomechanics theories. Central to this year-long module is a design challenge where students are tasked with designing, fabricating and testing tissue engineered scaffolds with the aim of achieving a new medical device capable of addressing a recognised clinical challenge. The lectures, tutorials and laboratory work delivered during the module are designed to support the project work as it progresses. Students are required to deliver key elements of their projects at various points during the year. Overall, the approach aims to improve student engagement and motivation, reinforce design thinking and problem solving and enhance creativity.

to be added

Contact Us

If you would like to find out more about Challenge Based Learning with the view to potentially introducing it to your programme within DCU please contact the Teaching Enhancement Unit via