Known by many as the Learning Pit, the Learning Challenge is used around the world to promote challenge, dialogue and a growth mindset. It was created by James Nottingham.
On this page you will find some of the best examples and resources for making the most of the Learning Challenge, including:
The Learning Challenge begins with a concept. The concept can come from the media, conversation, observations or the curriculum. So long as students have at least some understanding of the concept then the Learning Challenge can work. In SOLO Taxonomy terms, this is the uni-structural stage.
The key to the Learning Challenge is to get students "into the pit” by creating cognitive conflict in their minds. This deliberate creation of a dilemma is what makes the Learning Challenge such a good model for challenge and inquiry. It is also the frequent experience of cognitive conflict that helps to build a Growth Mindset (Dweck, 2006) in the minds of Learning Challenge participants. As for the SOLO Taxonomy, stage 2 represents the multi-structural stage.
After a while of being "in the pit,” some students begin to construct meaning for themselves. They do this by identifying relationships, explaining causes and integrating ideas into a new structure. As they do this, they experience a sense of "eureka” in which they have a new sense of clarity. This in turn puts them in an ideal position to help those students who are still confused. In SOLO Taxonomy terms, this is when students move to the relational stage of understanding.
Once “out of the pit,” students should be encouraged to reflect on the stages of thinking they’ve just been through – from a single, simplistic idea (stage 1) to the identification of lots of, sometimes conflicting, ideas (stage 2) right through to a new understanding of more complex and inter-related ideas (stage 3). They should then look for ways to relate and apply their new understanding to different contexts. In SOLO Taxonomy terms, this is the extended abstract stage of hypothesis, generalisation and application to new contexts.
Here are the individual graphics needed to make your own version of the Learning Challenge. Download the elements and join them together (we’d recommend dropping them into PPT or Keynote to do this). Send us your favourites and we’ll add them to our collection of completed illustrations.
Copyright notice: The materials contained in this database are copyrighted, and the availability of these materials does not constitute a transfer of any intellectual property rights. James Nottingham encourages users to download, customise and use these materials to support learning but the materials and any derivatives created by users may not be sold or distributed without the written consent of Challenging Learning.