The purpose of the Investigation phase of Challenge Based learning is twofold – to guide the learning journey and to set the foundation for the solution prototype. A productive trip through the Investigation phase results in the accomplishment of the designated learning objectives, and a deep understanding of the chosen domain creating a solid foundation to suggest a possible solution. When asked about the “why” of their solution, groups need to be able to confidently point to a clear synthesis of the research gathered during the Investigation phase.
A common mistake is treating the guiding questions, activities, and resources as a disconnected list of items to simply be completed. In this scenario, the learners work through the list of guiding questions but do not take the time to connect all of the dots into a comprehensive understanding of the domain they are studying. The learners may be able to recite facts and individual results but do not have a broad and deep enough knowledge of the field to develop defendable solutions.
The key to a successful move from Investigation to the Act phase is the development of a robust research synthesis. The Investigation synthesis is a written discussion that threads together all of the individual research findings from answering the guiding questions, draws conclusions, demonstrates a depth of knowledge and makes a case for the proposed solutions.
The Investigation synthesis:
Writing a useful Investigation synthesis is an essential skill that extends to all areas of research and writing. Learning to write a quality Investigation synthesis takes practice and learners should have frequent opportunities to move from research to a concise summary. Short nano-challenges focusing specifically on the Investigation phase and stopping at the creation and defense of a solution concept is an efficient way to build synthesis skills. Working on synthesis skills also provide a prime opportunity to work across the curriculum as the research synthesis plays a crucial role in other content areas.
Steps for creating an effective Investigation synthesis:
Helping learners develop the skills necessary for creating quality Investigation syntheses is time well spent. The better the learners are at researching and synthesizing findings the stronger their solutions will be.