HVE Design YOUniversity


Authenticity - A Design Quality of Choice

Authenticity, which refers to the possibility of linking learning tasks to things that are of real interest to the student, especially when the student is not interested in learning what adults have determined he or she needs to learn.

  • Do the students perceive that the quality of their product will have consequences for them that have meaning and significance?
  • Are conditions under which the work is done similar to the “real” world?

Authenticity - What is meaningful and significant in the students' lives and what results do they find important? For example, what hobbies, activities, extracurricular activities are appealing? What makes such things interesting to them? What results do they realize from these activities?

Authenticity. This term is bandied about quite a bit by educators, so much so that the power of the concept is sometimes lost. Clearly, however, when students are given tasks that are meaningless, contrived, and inconsequential, they are less likely to take them seriously and be engaged by them. But if the task carries real consequences, it's likely that engagement will increase. What teacher, for example, hasn't noticed that students prepare more diligently for a performance they know their parents will attend? Likewise, students who produce a documentary video on the Civil War are likely to be engaged in a more authentic learning experience than those who listen to a series of lectures on the war, with the sole goal of passing a test.

When Focusing on the Design Quality of Authenticity, Ask Yourself These Questions

  • How might the work students are being asked to produce be linked to results about which they care?
  • What might I do so students feel more ownership for the quality of the results?
  • How do I design the work in such a way that students have a positive stake in, and care about, the success of other students?

All information has been taken from the Schlechty Center.