Authentic Learning: Real-World Scenarios for Young Learners

Posted November 10, 2016 – AWE Learning Staff
Young learners are often known to ask, “why do I need to know this?” or ”when will I ever use this?” If students are unaware of how a topic is relevant to their life, they are less inclined to focus and absorb the lesson. With the incorporation of digital learning technology, authentic learning has become an increasingly popular instructional strategy.

In contrast with the banking model of education, or the idea that teachers serve as the ”depositor” of knowledge, authentic learning allows the individual to be active in their learning, especially within a STREAM curriculum. Authentic learning refers to the approach that allows students to explore, discuss, and construct concepts and relationships within a relevant context. Authentic learning gives young learners a sense of ownership in his or her own experience.

Through this type of instruction, students participate in activities that directly explore real world problems. Investigation through open-ended inquiries in multi-disciplinary learning environments is a critical element of this process. Collaboration plays an essential role, as young learners must work together as a team to build both leadership and teamwork skills that can extend beyond the learning environment.

Authentic learning is often integrated into instruction via role-playing exercises, problem-based activities, case studies, and participation in virtual communities of practice. For early childhood instruction, a variety of strategies can be utilized when specifically teaching early literacy skills to young learners. Some suggested strategies include re-enacting a story, modeling good reading habits, doing an author study, composing a letter to an author or character of a story, and using interactive bulletin boards to create areas of focus.

By including various resources such as books on tape, computer based programs, tablets, or other technology, young learners will develop literacy skills through multiple platforms, and l that literacy is a key component of their daily interaction with technology.

Authentic learning teaches learners how a concept or skill is used in the real-world, while also helping them acquire portable skills that newcomers to any discipline have difficulty learning on their own. These portable skills include judgment to identify reliable from unreliable information, patience to dive deeper into an argument, synthetic ability to recognize relevant patterns, and the flexibility to work across multiple disciplinary areas to generate innovate solutions.

Through the inquiries and investigations individuals participate in during authentic learning, young learners are exposed to multiple settings, perspectives, and hands-on activities. The results include skills that fall into the four domains of learning: cognitive, affective, psychomotor and conative. By relating skills and topics being introduced to the real world, authentic learning best prepares students for success in the classroom, their future careers, and other life experiences.

Authentic Learning

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