CBL: A Comprehensive Survey of the Literature


Challenge Based Learning (CBL) is a relatively new contribution to the pedagogical landscape, emerging in the early 2000s. Recently the interest in CBL and, correspondingly, the amount of published literature has increased significantly. This document builds on existing literature reviews and identifies additional publications to provide deeper and more comprehensive insight into CBL. Starting with a focused review of the academic databases: Scopus and WoS, a broad collection of CBL publications were identified and analyzed. The survey then identifies and reviews additional documents connected to these publications, resulting in an extensive review of the existing CBL literature.

Through the review, a series of themes emerged, providing a structure for the document. The themes include:

• the definition, origins and components of CBL;

• motivations for adoption and implementation;

• current strategies for implementation and potential barriers;

• the impact of CBL.

These themes are investigated by exploring and connecting a global set of publications. In addition, the document includes future research recommendations, a Bibliometrics and Scientometrics literature analysis, and a comprehensive bibliography. A goal of the document is to consolidate the current CBL literature, expand networks and increase conversations to support adoption, implementation and further research.

This literature survey presents an informative perspective of the global CBL landscape. The published literature presents CBL as a unique and promising pedagogical approach used effectively in transformative large-scale implementations and classroom integration. However, a range of new questions arise, and additional rigorous research is needed to deepen the knowledge base and gain a broader perspective on the effectiveness and role of CBL.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Permission is granted to replicate, copy, distribute, or adapt this report for non-commercial use under the condition that attribution is provided.


Perna, S., Recke M.P. & Nichols, M.H. (2023). Challenge Based Learning: A Comprehensive Survey of the Literature. The Challenge Institute.


1 reply

January 20, 2024

I appreciate having this background and research on CBL as part of implementation. Thank you for this helpful documentation on the literature and the process of development.

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