Investigating the Dynamics of Authentic Learning in a Project-based Engineering Course
Paper i proceeding, 2018

Educational researchers and practitioners have long lamented the chasm between education and real-world experiences or issues. A popular way to mitigate this gap is through designing authentic learning experiences, and much previous work has focused on developing models for this design. The paper addresses a gap in such frameworks, namely the occurrence of tensions and negotiations between ways of working that students and teachers find authentic and meaningful. Focusing on the strategies employed by teachers in the design of an authentic learning environment and students’ reactions to these, we present a qualitative case study of a project-based engineering course in which student teams created software applications in collaboration with an external stakeholder. We find that tensions between what students and teachers deemed meaningful arose from on the one hand students’ readiness to take on self-directed learning and on the other hand differences between disciplinary views and students’ habits of mind related to software development. We illustrate how the teachers’ ability to bridge these tensions seemed hinged on their understanding of students’ prior learning experiences, and the enminding of these into learning activities. To enhance the value of contemporary models of authentic learning as practical and explanatory frameworks, we argue for adding two theoretical constructs – tensions and negotiations – and we call for more and longitudinal research on these

authentic learning

engineering education


Oskar Hagvall Svensson

Chalmers, Teknikens ekonomi och organisation, Entrepreneurship and Strategy, Entrepreneurship and strategy

Tom Adawi

Chalmers, Vetenskapens kommunikation och lärande, Avdelningen för ingenjörsutbildningsvetenskap (EER)

46th Annual Conference of the European Society for Engineering Education
Copenhagen, Denmark,





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