One of the challenges in education is keeping students engaged. Recent statistics show that student engagement drops with each passing grade level. Eight-two percent (PDF) of Canadian fifth graders feel engaged, but that drops to 45 percent by the 12th grade.
Welcome authentic learning experiences. Authentic experiences have been shown to increase engagement using these concepts:
- Encouraging students to solve real-world problems.
- Allowing students to follow their personal questions and passions.
- Assigning work that requires giving audience presentations.
By connecting real-world issues and interests to their education, students become more motivated to learn and teach themselves new skills. It can also help students gain real-world experience that prepares them for future educational opportunities and their future careers. We’ve assembled examples of authentic learning experiences that, along with student swag, can help aid them in the learning process.
Ideas for each subject area
Rather than assigning spelling words and essays written about an assigned book or topic, have students take on the role of a copywriter or journalist. This lets them practice several writing skills—proper grammar, interviewing and editing, to name a few—while engaging them to write stories about topics they care about. Student giveaways, like memo pads, can provide a place to jot down notes. At the end of the semester, ask students to store their project in a portfolio and present it to a professional journalist or copywriter.
Instead of asking students to learn formulas and solve problem sets, have them find real-world areas where math is used. For example, students can take on the role of a statistician and track sports statistics over an extended period of time. They could even be a team manager and determine which team members to cut or trade based on their findings.
When studying the human body and nutrition, allow students to take on the role of nutritionists, researching and discussing potential health issues that arise from different dietary habits. Ask them to poll fellow students on how closely they follow proper nutritional guidelines and present their findings and suggestions for improvements. Reward all with student swag, like a school-branded water bottle.
Demand for software developers is expected to grow 24 percent by 2026, faster than average for all occupations. Instead of asking them to learn basic code, have students create and present a simple app of their choice. Ask participants to save their work on a USB drive, an ideal student giveaway. For extra fun, ask students to vote on the best app. Send the winner home with a set of ear buds—and bragging rights—as a prize.
Authentic learning teaches real-world skills
Authentic learning can teach students how educational concepts interact with real-life scenarios. By offering your class helpful student swag and allowing students to follow their passions through “real-world” work experiences, you can help raise their engagement level and teach them valuable life skills at the same time.