Authentic Learning: Revisited

Based on three readings from this week, the Jasper materials seem to be responding to the issue of inauthentic learning in mathematics. That is, teachers seem to be emphasizing the importance of mathematical facts and fluency, which has caused several additional problems of student learning including: lack of problem solving skills (CTGV, 1992a), lack of motivation and engagement (Hasselbring, Lott & Zydney, 2005), an increasing gap between low and high performers (Hickey, Moore & Pellegrin, 2001), as well as low scores on standardized achievement tests (Hasselbring et al., 2005). I agree on the relevance of this issue because problem solving has always been a skill students have struggled with and that though students excel at drill and practice equations, they are somehow unable to translate these strengths into hypothetical word problems. At the same time, these word problems are confounding because it requires students with adequate reading comprehension abilities but then additionally are irrelevant and not applicable to real life situations. On the contrary, authentic learning includes the development of core skills of mathematics in the context of meaningful solving activities (CTGV, 1992a). The Jasper Project addresses these issues because it teaches students to identify and define issues, to participate in collaborative problem solving, and to actively construct of knowledge about mathematical concepts.

Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt (1992a). The Jasper experiment: An exploration of issues in learning and instructional design. Educational Technology, Research and Development, 40(1), 65-80.

Hasselbring, T. S., Lott, A. C., & Zydney, J. M. (2005). Technology-supported math instruction for students with disabilities: Two decades of research and development.

Hickey, D.T., Moore, A. L. & Pellegrin, J.W. (2001). The motivational and academic consequences of elementary mathematics environments: Do constructivist innovations and reforms make a difference? American Educational Research Journal, 38(3), 611-652.

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