|Challenge problems are most commonly used in place of a formal lecture to promote the learning benefits that can be derived from discussion among students and instructor(s). The goal is to move students from a passive sit-and-observe mode to a situation where they think about the information and knowledge that is to be learned as they restructure or organize it, choose appropriate parts for use or elaboration, draw diagrams involving the relationships among components, explain how they solved a problem and why that process worked, etc.
An active learning environment involves groups of students and the instructor working together to solve a problem although each has a different role. Instructors guide students' thinking with questions or suggestions, provide feedback, and bring closure to an activity. Within their group students present, explain, and justify the strategies they used to understand a problem or question and to come to an answer. In some cases, they present the group's strategy to the class. This must be done within an supportive atmosphere of sharing and trust.
Student presentations can be done in written or verbal form although a verbal presentation has the advantage of incorporating questions and answers. Even if a group is composed of individuals who work on a problem independently then compare answers, members of that group must at some time be required to present, explain and justify their processes to each other or, preferably, to the class.