Authentic Learning

Authentic Learning

The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) articulated five general goals for all students; these are that they learn to value mathematics, become confident in their ability to do mathematics, become mathematical problem solvers, learn to communicate mathematically and learn to reason mathematically. (cited from NCREL)

There is a strong belief that all students should be actively engaged in meaningful, hands-on, minds-on, and authentic, learning experiences in mathematics. Such learning experiences are:

  • Hands-on - involving students in really doing mathematics - experimenting first-hand with physical objects in the environment and having concrete experience before learning abstract mathematical concepts
  • Minds-on- focusing on the core concepts and critical thinking processes needed for students to create and re-create mathematical concepts and relationships in their own minds
  • Authentic - allowing students to explore, discover, discuss, and meaningfully construct mathematical concepts and relationships in contexts that involve real-world problems and projects that are relevant and interesting to the learner

In general, an authentic task is one which:

  • is purposeful and engaging
  • models how people solve real problems in work and/or communities
  • puts knowledge to work
  • potentially demonstrates what students know and can do
  • supports multiple representations and solution strategies
  • offers opportunities for meaningful learning and higher order cognitive thinking
  • results in some product, presentation or outcome as a result of the deliberations of the group and/or individual.  (cited from Victorian DEECD)

Different ways of solving a task reveal qualitatively different knowledge and skill sets, and these can be evaluated in terms of the Learning and Assessment Framework for Multiplicative Thinking (LAF).

To read more about authentic learning in teaching of Mathematics go to Learning section on the Engaging All Students community.