“Authentic experiences” are core to many projects. The session shows ways authenticity is used in engineering/technology with examples from projects.
The ubiquitous use of the term “authenticity” makes it difficult to not only operationalize the term for the development of learning environments, but also for empirical research into the effectiveness or role of different dimensions and different constructs of context and authenticity. Research on STEM education and underrepresented minorities and women may serve as an example for the significance and impact of authentic learning experiences and the need for more reflection: Data show that STEM fields are not as attractive to underrepresented minorities and girls. While reasons differ, girls are turning away from science/math as early as third and fourth grade, and for the ones persisting, the current climate provided by STEM curricula produces a high level of anxiety and low self-efficacy. Similarly, engineering is considered more object-oriented than people-oriented. As a result, many students who are interested in careers related to increasing the social good may not pursue an engineering-related field, but instead go into a field that is thought to be more people-oriented (e.g. medical fields).
The objectives of this session are to (1) collect and discuss different models of authenticity; (2) highlight similarities and differences on the level and extent pre-college engineering education can be and (perhaps) should be authentic, providing students rich learning experiences; and (3) showcase examples from projects on how authenticity is present. The session includes (a) the introduction and discussion of a model of authenticity for engineering education including context, task, impact, and personal/value authenticity developed by Strobel et al.; (b) a discussion of the study on the intersection of concepts and context for Engineering and Technology Education conducted by Hacker et al. (joint project between Hofstra and Delft University); and (c) an overview of a curriculum module for high school biology that incorporates global issues and concerns using engineering design projects developed by Brockway et al.