Constructivist or those who believe that we learn by making meaningful connections and we construct new knowledge when we combine or relate it to what we already know have argued that working on real-world or authentic learning opportunities is one of the most effective ways to learn. Authentic learning is a key component of the CSLE+COVA approach and when we talk about authentic learning or refer to giving learners choice, ownership, and voice through authentic learning opportunities we are summarizing authentic learning in the following way.
Learners are given the opportunity to select and engage in real-world or authentic learning opportunities that enable them to make a genuine difference in their own learning environments. The selection and engagement in these real-world problems that are relevant to the learner furthers their ability to make meaningful connections (Donovan, Bransford, & Pellegrino, 2000) and provide them with career preparedness not available in more traditional didactic forms of education (Windham, 2007). Research confirms that authenticity is only developed through engagement with these sorts of real-world tasks and that this type of authentic learning can deepen knowledge creation and ultimately help the learner transfer this knowledge beyond the classroom (Driscoll, 2005; Nikitina, 2011). It is also important to recognize that authenticity is not an independent or isolated feature of the learning environment but it is the result of the continual interaction between the learner, the real-world activity, and the learning environment (Barab, Squire, & Dueber, 2000). This is also why we stress that in the CSLE+COVA model choice, ownership, and voice are realized through authentic learning and without this dynamic and interactive authenticity, there would be no genuine choice, ownership, and voice (Thibodeaux, Harapnuik, & Cummings, 2017).
The authentic learning aspect of the CSLE+COVA approach maps closely to Newmann, & Wehlage five standards of authentic learning:
- Higher-order thinking – learners move beyond the regurgitation of facts to making meaningful connections that transform information and ideas through analysis, synthesis, design, and creation.
- Depth of knowledge – learners are able to solve complex problems and systematically synthesizing large amounts of fragmented information into cohesive arguments and explanations that lead to a deeper understanding.
- Connectedness to the world beyond the classroom – learners address authentic or real-world and use these personal experiences to apply their gained knowledge and experience.
- Substantive conversation – learners collaborate with peers and experts to use higher order thinking to enter into a dialogue that can collectively improve the understanding of the authentic problems or projects.
- Social support for student achievement – learner use collaboration rather than competition as the path to developing an environment that promotes, diversity, respect, and inclusion.
By pointing to these five standards of authentic learning we are confirming that the CSLE+COVA approach is not only a synergy of well established constructivist ideas we are also confirming our it is better to build on the positive narrative about improving learning by building on a solid foundation that we emphasize in the following video:
Barab, S. A., Squire, K. D., & Dueber, W. (2000). A co-evolutionary model for supporting the emergence of authenticity. Educational Technology Research and Development, 48(2), 37-62.
Donovan, S. M., Bransford, J. D., & Pellegrino, J. W. (2000). How People Learn: Bridging research and practice. Washington D. C.: National Academy Press.
Newmann, F. & Wehlage, G. (1993). Five standards of authentic instruction. Educational Leadership, 50 (7), 8-12.
Nikitina, L. (2011). Creating an authentic learning environment in the foreign language classroom. International Journal of Instruction, (4)1, 33-36. Retrieved from http://www.e-iji.net/dosyalar/iji_2011_1_3.pdf
Thibodeaux, T. N., Harapnuik, D. K., Cummings, C. D., & Wooten, R. (2017). Learning all the time and everywhere: Moving beyond the hype of the mobile learning quick fix. In Keengwe, J. S. (Eds.). Handbook of research on mobile technology, constructivism, and meaningful learning. Hershey, PA: IGI Global. Submitted for Publication.
Windham, C. (2007). Why today’s students value authentic learning. Educause Learning ELI Paper 9. Retrieved from http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI3017.pdf