“Teamchers” help students solve business challenges

Challenge Based Learning (CBL) gives students tools to solve real business challenges. Working in interdisciplinary teams, they develop innovative and creative solutions based on their various skills.
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This description of Challenge Based Learning was provided by Charlotte Norrman at a recent digital knowledge exchange for university educators. Norrman is an associate professor at the Department of Management and Engineering, Linköping University, and also part of IVA’s Entrepreneurship Academy network of entrepreneurship educators.

Challenge Based Learning has a number of stages. First the students receive the challenge and decide how to approach it. They then gather facts, have a dialogue with the stakeholders and decide how to proceed. Finally they develop a solution which they document and present. Their teachers provide support throughout the process.

- The students are forced outside their comfort zone and have a chance to practice working as a team, giving and receiving feedback and pitching their ideas,” said Norrman.

Learning by doing

CBL is a student-centric method – knowledge is created by the students, not transferred from their teacher. The model includes active and collaborative learning as well as structured reflection to make use of all the skills and expertise in the team – all for the purpose of visualising and intensifying what they learn throughout the process.

- The focus of CBL is not to learn about entrepreneurship. Instead it is an experienced-based method of learning through entrepreneurship,” said Norrman.

Focus on skills

Students need to take responsibility and meet the requirements of collaboration and communication. The work process often involves handling large quantities of information and a large dose of uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. This forces the students to think about which unique skills they possess and how they can use them.

- The teaching role is different and the term “teamcher” is used. A teamcher arranges, leads and supports the CBL process, either alone or as part of a team. Teamchers often float between roles as a teacher, coach and organiser,” says Norrman.

Norrman’s four tips for teachers who want to work with Challenge Based Learning:

  1. Avoid working with challenge providers who regard the students as consultants to perform a specific task in a certain way. The providers should be interested in having an interaction with the students and not setting their expectations too high for what the outcome of the process is to be.
  2. Try to find challenges that are open and match the skills and expertise in the team. The challenges must be realistic and the solution should not be obvious – neither to the student nor the provider.
  3. Allow the students to work with shitty prototyping, where student teams – together with their challenge providers – build simple prototypes by a deadline. These are then developed on an ongoing basis based on feedback received.
  4. Reports and exams can be arranged through a fair where half of the team presents their ideas and the other half visits the fair and invests fake money in the ideas they believe in.

The Entrepreneurship Academy

IVA’s Entrepreneurship Academy is working to stimulate entrepreneurship in Sweden. This involves working with various actors, government agencies and organisations to study what is needed for entrepreneurship to be a theme throughout the education system, supporting individuals and the development of society, business and industry.

Learn more here

Contact information

Helene Thorgrimsson
Project Coordinator
Phone +46 8-791 29 47