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Learning Challenge: How to Guide Your Students Through the Learning Pit to Achieve Deeper Understanding (International Edition)

by James Nottingham Corwin Press
Pub Date:
Pbk 288 pages
AU$62.00 NZ$64.35
Product Status: Not Our Publication - we no longer distribute
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Embrace challenge and celebrate eureka!

Challenge makes learning more interesting. That’s one of the reasons to encourage your students to dive into the learning pit—a state of cognitive conflict that forces students to think more deeply, critically, and strategically until they discover their “eureka” moment. Nottingham, an internationally known author and consultant, will show you how to promote challenge, dialogue, and a growth mindset through:

    • Practical strategies that guide students through the four stages of the Learning Challenge

    • Engaging lesson plan ideas and classroom activities

    • Inspiring examples from Learning Challenges across the world

If you and your students focus on grades alone then rich learning opportunities might be missed along the way. A more rigorous and exploratory path to learning leads to a deeper understanding of concepts. When students experience The Learning Challenge, learning lasts for a lifetime.

Foreword by John Hattie
Chapter 1: Introduction to the Learning Challenge
Chapter 2: The Learning Challenge in Practice
Chapter 3: The Learning Challenge Culture
Chapter 4: Concepts
Chapter 5: Cognitive Conflict
Chapter 6: Construct Meaning
Chapter 7: Consider Your Learning
Chapter 8: Mindset Matters
Chapter 9: Links and Perspectives
Chapter 10: The Learning Challenge in Action
Index of Concepts

"James Nottingham’s work on Challenging Learning is a critical element of creating Visible Learners. This new series will help teachers hone the necessary pedagogical skills of dialogue, feedback, questioning, and mindset. There’s no better resource to encourage all learners to know and maximize their impact!"

John Hattie, Professor & Director, Melbourne Education Research Institute University of Melbourne


"In this era of rapid change, cognitive conflict is a constant challenge to be faced. James Nottingham’s Learning Challenge offers learners of all ages a place to be and a process to recognise and engage with. Offering young learners the opportunity to contend with the tension that goes with being 'in the pit' and think and talk about their own learning is immensely valuable. My experience, working with this concept is that it works!"

Simon Feasey, School Principal

Bader Primary School, Thornaby, Stockton-on-Tees, England


"I use the pit to structure my courses at James Madison University. Students in my teacher education courses are deliberately placed into cognitive conflict around decisions in teaching and learning. It is an excellent fit. My students, one year away from having their own classrooms, will frequently walk into my class and announce that they are in the pit. Nottingham’s work is excellent!"

John Almarode, Professor of Education & Co-Director of the Center for STEM Education and Outreach

James Madison University, College of Education, Harrisonburg VA


"We all recognize that schooling is no longer about imparting information in the hope that it will be put to good use. We know good schooling is about providing students with continuous opportunities to develop the ability and practices to think deeply. Deep learning is hard work. It is complex, complicated, not particularly comfortable at times (see ‘The Pit’). In The Learning Challenge, Nottingham takes us through the four stages of the Learning Challenge, a framework for thinking and learning, in which students learn to step out of their comfort zone so that they can make meaning and connections in order to engage in deep thinking.

Hattie (2016) states that 90% of what is taught in schools is at the surface level. That is not a comforting statistic. In The Learning Challenge, James Nottingham has provided us a clear path for engaging students in deep and meaningful learning complete with student-friendly language, stages and steps, examples, tools and tactics to guide us in engaging students in rigorous learning."

Barb Pitchford, Co-author

Leading Impact Teams: Building a Culture of Efficacy (2016)
James Nottingham is the founder of Challenging Learning, a company based in the UK, Australia and Scandinavia. His passion is in transforming the most up-to-date research into strategies that really work in the classroom. He has been described by the Swedish Teaching Union as “one of the most talked about names in the world of school development.”

Before training to be a teacher, James worked on a pig farm, in the chemical industry, for the American Red Cross and as a sports coach in a school for deaf children. At university, he gained a first class honours degree in education. He then worked as a teacher and leader in primary and secondary schools in the UK before co-founding an award-winning, multi-million pound social regeneration project supporting schools and businesses across the UK.

In 2009, James was listed among the Future 500 – a “definitive list of the UK’s most forward-thinking and brightest innovators.”