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Covid Challenge

In the Covid Challenge, third-year bachelor and master students from different disciplines looked for solutions for citizens of Utrecht that were impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. In this 3,5 ECTS CBL course, students worked towards the following objective:  

“Create an innovative non-repressive solution, in order to limit the negative impacts of Covid-19 in the daily lives of citizens.”

The goal of every team was to deliver a final solution for a solution to the challenge to the client, meeting agreed expectations and requirements. The final product should be feasible, scalable and have practical potential. Nevertheless, the concept of the solution, and the journey of each team, varied and was defined by themselves. In working on this challenge, participants employed a transdisciplinary approach: the solutions should combine medical, technical, political, behavioural, economic and sustainability disciplines.

Learning outcomes

After successful completion of this course learners were expected to be able to: 

  1. Apply their academic knowledge, general academic skill and attitude to a project dealing with a complex real-world problem.
  2. Analyse the context of a real-life problem and distinguish the most relevant elements for defining the problem and designing a solution.
  3. Assess opportunities offered by the existing state-of-the-art technologies and solutions and identify areas for innovation, relevant for solving a real-life challenge. 
  4. Gathering, selecting and analysing information, tools and techniques and integrating this into final project deliverables in terms of process and content at an academic level. 
  5. Communicate their solutions orally or textually, professionally and academically. 
  6. Set and reflect on personal learning goals in a cyclic manner leading to future reflections and actions.

Learning journey

Over 8 weeks learners, working in teams of 7, spent 98 hours on this course. It involved webinars and workshops, teamwork, coaching, self-study and personal and team development. Learners had to develop a solution for the client and in parallel they all work on their individual part. Several challenge-specific and skill-specific workshops/webinars were given to support the learners in their process, and learner assessment. 

Most of the planned activities occurred early in the course, with teamwork taking priority towards the end of the course. Most of the sessions were recorded and put online for the learners to watch in their own time. Finally, some activities were indicated as being on demand and these weremainly feedback or coaching. Learners had to actively request on demand activities and plan them. 


The final assessment was divided into a number of group and individual deliverables.

  • The group deliverables (advisory report and pitches) were reviewed per team, accounting for 70% of the final grade
    • Advisory report
      The advisory report reflected the three main stages of the process, i.e. challenge proposal: a short document/video that defined the challenge, including why this challenge is essential; ideas on how the challenge could be solved and the mission/vision of the group team; a research plan, created by the learners to organise and document their efforts to research and answer the guiding questions; implementation & evaluation plan which should include a description of the solution, how it was determined, where it would be implemented, the participants, and how success would be measured.
    • Pitches
      There were two pitches provided by each team during the course, both focused on the solution-concept being developed. For the first pitch, the learners had to present their preliminary concept/idea and they received feedback. The final pitch was the presentation of their final idea, at the end of the course. Based on this, the client chose the best overall solution.
  • The individual deliverable was a reflection report accounting for 30% of the final grade. The final reflection report had to cover three main points: content of the challenge & knowledge(scientific knowledge, knowledge from stakeholders involved in the challenge); group management and dynamics (learners were asked to consider the role that they played in the team during the challenge, how they contributed to the dynamics and the group result); and personal level (2-3 individual learning goals,with support of a coach, keeping track of their own progress). 

Course evaluation

Two focus groups evaluated this CBL course, one with coaches and one with learners. During the focus groups, the participants were asked about their experiences, the process, what they appreciated in the course, what they would like to change, etc. Additionally, the project team of this course evaluated the process via a questionnaire. 

General information and contact details of this CBL course can be found on the EWUU website.