Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Searching for Authentic Learning in S-7

I am planning my challenge based social studies projects for the coming school year with several objects in mind. Paramount among them is striving for authentic learning.

Marilyn M. Lombardi (Duke University) says that researchers have distilled the authentic learning experience to ten design elements:

Real-world relevance
Students identification of tasks and subtasks
Sustained investigation
Multiple sources and perspectives
Collaboration
Reflection (metacognition)
Interdisciplinary perspective
Integrated assessment
Polished products
Multiple interpretations and outcomes

I think this is an exciting approach to curriculum, but I expect significant student resistance. They are conditioned to figuring out what the teacher wants, and some of the most motivated students simply want the teacher to tell them what to do, so they can do it and possibly exceed the teacher’s expectations. How will things go when I ask the students set their own expectations and complete their own assessments? Will they balk at collaboration? How much assistance will they need to critically assess their sources and develop probing questions for their investigations?

On the other hand, I think the “real world relevance of the challenge based projects may be highly motivating them. I’m sure that I will learn more than they will, next semester.You can naturally expect that my reflections on what happens in S-7 will show up at the Drive-thru in a couple of months.
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"Authentic" Flickr Creative Commons photo by ara_p

2 comments:

Lilith said...

If I were still there at Mercy, I'd ask your students to submit their projects for publication in Newsprint Online.

Larry Baker said...

You have really hit a key point, Lilith. Our students need authentic audiences. I've been working on my A.P. project, and part of the assignment will require the students to find a medium and an audience.

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