How does Authentic Learning help in today’s education? – Part 2
Posted on: August 16, 2019.

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Cognitive flexibility, which involves creative thinking, is one of the most-in-demand skills of the 21st century, and AL experiences can help students develop this skill. An important aspect of AL is that there are multiple possible outcomes or solutions to a problem than a single right answer.

This can encourage students to ask questions and think outside the box. Research says AL strategies encourage Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) and engages students in creative thinking, and also improves critical thinking.

Rather than simply committing information to memory or following a specific set of instructions, students engaged in AL take a lead in identifying key problems, asking questions, brainstorming ideas and going through the process of trial and error in order to create a final product or solution. AL increases engagement and motivation.

This is because students engage in activities that connect them emotionally and thus connect new information to what they already know; which in turn strengthens neural connections and improves long term memory storage. Also when students understand that their work can have a real-world impact, they’ll be simply more interested in the outcome of whatever they engage in.

Students are expected to remember, most likely, whatever they’ve learnt and again retrieve the contents again for future tasks. Research says learning through experiences greatly improves subject retention, and one study from the University of Illinois, Chicago (UIC), found that students who physically experienced scientific concepts demonstrated deeper understanding and also scored better on science tasks.

AL serves a more positive learning environment because it promotes collaboration and teamwork. This helps students accomplish a shared learning goal where they can enjoy social, psychological, and academic benefits, reducing anxiety and improved problem-solving skills. Students gain multiple perspectives on a single issue. There can be no one-stop solution to any problem in the real world.

No one is expected to give one correct answer to a single problem but want multiple solutions to a problem by examining a task from different perspectives, using a variety of resources, and separating facts from opinion or speculation students need to pick up 21st century skills like digital citizenship, coding and critical reading and fact checking.

Here, AL encourages use of a variety of tools, both old and new. For example, student working on a group project might brainstorm together in the classroom, share ideas, and collaborate online through a blog or Twitter account, view and provide feedback through a Pinterest board and use other technology for presentation of one’s findings and make sense of the data they’ve collected.

“Finally, although AL is hard to define, it is the instructional approach that will be best prepare students for our rapidly changing world because it is grounded in reality and builds learners’ capacity in all domains of learning.”, says Stenger.

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