The Challenge is a simulated learning model that not only requires mastery and implementation of cognitive content, but also demands that students proactively engage and apply that content in a meaningful manner. The underlying pedagogy on which interaction is based is a synthesis of play and problem-based theory. While play-based learning strategies have been most closely associated with educational models aimed at children, its pedagogical precedents also have value for similar learning in adults.
Problem-based learning is an instructional approach that presents the learner with specific problems that demand mastery of critical knowledge, problem solving proficiency, self-directed learning strategies, and team participation skills. It has close associations with the constructivism school of psychological theory of knowledge which argues that humans construct knowledge and meaning from their experiences. Its foundations are typically associated with the work of the Swiss philosopher, Jean Piaget.
The Challenge employs an iterative structure that allows for repeated exposure to roughly comparable tasks thereby giving the students multiple opportunities to revisit a similar task and to fashion his/her solution to the problem. Additionally, the presentation of the necessary knowledge and skills for problem-resolution are presented only gradually and revealed by in-class instruction. Thus, each student is led to his/her own learning according to his/her own abilities over time, thereby increasing the ownership and depth of such discovery.
The Challenge itself is but one application of a particular synthesis of pedagogical philosophies that could be similarly implemented in a wide variety of settings and context.
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