Foundations of Constructivism/Authentic Learning
CHAPTER 4: Authentic (Real-World) Learning
What is Authentic (real-world) Learning and Assessment? Authentic real world learning and assessment consist of constructivist theorists approaches that are learner centered. These learner centered principles move instruction away from the teacher and toward the learner or student. These principles are important to the teacher as they instruct their students. A constructivist learning design has been implemented that contain six important elements: Situation, Groupings, Bridge, Questions, Exhibit, and Reflections. Use of these elements by a teacher in their planning provoke the learner centered approach. We will look at each element in more detail now. Teachers may develop a "situation" for their students to experience or be a part of and able to explain. "Grouping" has to do with pairing students together either homogeneously or heterogeneously and in groups of 2, 3, 4, or 5 depending on the situation. "Bridge" is tapping into a students prior knowledge to see what they already know, what they want to learn (a KWL chart is often used). While bridging, a student naturally has "questions" to ask or answer about the situation. Students then are encouraged to "exhibit" an understanding of their thinking or their learning and share it with others and finally "reflect" on their own learning.
Why is authentic (real-world) learning important to constructivism?. Advocates of constructivism say that a direct instruction approach turns children's into passive learners. With constructivist approaches, children focus on collaboration with others to produce knowledge and understanding. As schools approach and grow to meet constructivist goals it is important they require a new and appropriate forms of assessment. Having a range of assessments allows differentiation of student learning styles and yields better more usable information to assess student learning. Assessment strategies include: Performance tasks, Portfolio development, and Scoring Rubrics. Other assessment tools include: Learning logs, Reflective journals, Graphic organizers, Interviews, Peer editing and Interactive Notebooks. These types of assessment tools help students develop problem solving skills and provide relevance and rigor. Most of all, it makes the student responsible for their own learning.
Authentic Learning & Assessment in Humanities and Language Arts
"Real world" themes are often used in Humanities and Language Arts and combine a variety of resources and activities to allow students to have many different types of authentic literacy learning experiences. Authentic literacy learning experiences are those that individuals would naturally have in real life. For example, you might go to a museum to see an exhibit about ancient Egypt. A booklet on mummies is available. As a follow-up to the visit, you might read the booklet and write to the sources listed for more information. "Real world" themes will allow for these same types of experiences to take place as a part of school learning. These themes have the following important characteristics:
A clear focus around one or more meaningful, key concepts. A balance of high-quality, authentic narrative and expository texts as appropriate to the theme. A balance of authentic "real world" resources. A variety of authentic learning experiences involving both discovery and direct instruction.
Authentic Learning & Assessment in History and Social Studies
Project-based learning is yet another authentic type of learning that can be used in History and Social Studies. Students try to answer a question -- one that has relevance for them -- that is greater than the immediate task at hand. Students then conduct surveys, do research, build models, and take field trips with the goal of determining the best answer or solution to the problem. An example of project based learning was in my own classroom, students were given information about different geographical areas. As a group, they had to decide which place was the best to call home, build a colony and live. In the end, they are told which place was the actual spot the first colonists landed in Jamestown, and like the first colonists, the students understand why they landed in Jamestown. This put the learning into the students hands, making it more relevant to them without just being told information to memorize. Engaging activities are more likely stored in long term memory.
Authentic Learning & Assessment in Science, Mathematics, & Technology
Children's thinking and problem solving can be compared to that of a scientist. Both children and scientists ask fundamental questions about nature and reality. Both also seek answers based on prior knowledge and experimentation. Math and Science authentic learning should emphasize discovery and hands-on investigations. Constructivist teaching emphasizes that children have to build their own scientific knowledge and understanding. In math and science, each step is formed on this.
Some critics argue that such constructivist approaches give too much attention to inquiry skills and not enough to discipline-specific information. However, Piaget and other constructivist theorists reveal how cognitive chane is likely to occur if the contes is structured to allow gradual movement to the next higher level and that a concept does not emerge suddenly, full-blown, but rather through a series of partial accomplishments that lead to increasingly comprehensive understanding. Having highly relevant and highly rigorous authentic learning and assessment accomplishes this goal.
Authentic Learning- In this type of learning, materials and activities are framed around "real life" contexts in which they would be used. The underlying assumption of this approach is that material is meaningful to students and therefore, more motivating and deeply processed.
Still in progress...
1. Name the 6 elements of real world learning.
2. True or False: Direct instruction turns children into collaborative learners.
3. True or False: Constructivist teaching makes learning meaningful
4. What important characteristics do real world themes have?