Authentic Intellectual Work (AIW) is something that goes beyond what we typically see in schools today. The focus, espeically in secondary schools is on a grade, a number, not the things that are actually important, like learning and its process. AIW fills in the area that requires inquiry from the students, tries to relate work better to the student and make those connections that keep them engaged in school. A big focus for AIW is on things that are going to happen or be important for students, outside of the classroom, and in the future endeavors they may face. The idea of having “learning activities that have value beyond school and connect to real-life applications.” (Newmann, p. 3, 2007)
The components of AIW are construction of knowledge, disciplined inquiry, and value beyond school. Construction of knowledge comes from the skills that you use to navigate your way through new, challenging problems and find “an adequate solution to new problems.” (Newmann, p. 3, 2007) Disciplined inquiry is the next of the components. This requires multiple components of itself, such as using your prior knowledge, searching for deeper understandings and finding methods to be able to communicate the findings. The third is value beyond school, not just outside of, but beyond, knowledge and learning that is relevant and will be relevant to students in their future careers and lives. “Almost 50% of high school dropouts leave because school is not interesting for them.” (Newmann, p. 12, 2007) When courses relate more to knowledge students feel will help them, they become more engaged and interested.
One of the ways I have used an example of Authentic Intellectual Work in my classes was for my government class last year. The class had to write a short paper on two changes that they would make to the U.S. government. This helped to keep students involved and gave them a reason to look into the government and see things that they feel could be changed. Many of them initially went into issues they may have heard their family members complain about, but some of the students through their research in this project changed their mind on a particular view. This project also helped students identify political issues that they were passionate about and could help make them more involved and active citizens after they graduate.
Technology can enable a lot of new opportunities for learning, as a history teacher, being in a 1:1 technology school is something that really opens up opportunities to me as a teacher. One thing that is very helpful in this scenario is that I can have students explore virtual tours of important historical places. With technology students are even able to take a look back at historical times as well, even taking a trip to ancient Rome in Augmented Reality. “Students use a mobile device with AR to augment their “field” experience at a local historical site.” (NETP, p. 20, 2017) These can help students to make those real world, more practical connections than just hearing lectures about, or reading about them in a book would. Adding a visual element, they can experience and explore makes the lesson much more powerful.
AIW is not something that is explicitly listed on Kolb’s Triple-E Framework, but it is something that coincides with it well. Both of these places an emphasis on learning that is focused on real-world scenarios. A type of learning that places an emphasis on preparing students for things outside of the classroom. One of the three E’s is engagement and that is something that is mentioned in the AIW framework pretty often. In its background and purpose section AIW mentions that one of the biggest problems the US Education system faces is a “lack of student engagement in their courses.” (Newmann, p. Viii, 2007) AIW framework works towards solving this engagement problem that teachers and students face.
Kolb, L. (2020). Learning first, technology second in practice. Portland, OR: ISTE.
Newmann, F. M., King, M. B., & Carmichael, D. L. (2007). Authentic instruction and assessment: Common standards for rigor and relevance in teaching academic subjects. State of Iowa Department of Education.
Office of Educational Technology. (2017). Reimagining the role of technology in education: 2017 National Education Technology Plan update. Retrieved from http://tech.ed.gov.