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ALE:

real world/audience, critical thinking, community of learners, and student-directed learning.

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Eight randomly selected students were also interviewed in order to further clarify the students’

level of motivation after the ALE was completed. Their answers were coded and analyzed

according to the themes and trends that their answers revealed.

Survey

In order to answer whether ALE’s lead to greater motivation and thus greater engagement

for students, the survey was used to show the individual relationship of the four characteristics of

an authentic learning experiences to the ALE as a whole. The researcher assigned a value of 5 to

each survey answer that showed the best attitude toward an ALE. So if the best attitude answer

for a question was “Strongly Agree,” then that answer received a 5, if “Mildly Agree” then a 4, if

“Neutral” a 3, if “Mildly Disagree” a 2, and if “Strongly Disagree” a 1. These assigned scores of

each survey were then added together to get a total number of points for that student’s survey.

The total possible points available for the 20-question survey was 100. The researcher then

collated the answers into the four characteristics of an ALE. Each of those sections of five

questions was also totalled for each student. The researcher then had a total number for each

characteristic as well as a total number for each survey. This data was used to calculate

regression, or the relationship between each characteristic of an ALE to the ALE as a whole.

Figures 1 thru 4 show the regression lines for each of the four characteristics. The regression is

measured using R-squared. The R-squared value for each of the characteristics are as follows:

Real World/Audience: 48.4%; Community of Learners: 38.7%; Critical Thinking: 63.3%;

Student Choice: 15.1%. The results of this analysis show how each of the characteristics of an

ALE fall in relationship to the ALE as a whole.

Figure 2. Linear graph showing the correlation between Real World/Audience to the total sum of the

survey.

The R-squared value of 48.4% shows that having a real problem and/or a real audience

was motivating for the students. It was the second highest correlation of the four characteristics.

Su m

o f R

ea l W

or ld

/A ud

ie nc

e Sc

or es

10

13

16

19

22

25

Total Sum 55 64 73 82 91 100

R² = 0.4835

Real World/Audience

AUTHENTIC LEARNING EXPERIENCES !24

Figure 3. Linear graph showing correlation between Critical Thinking and the total sum of

survey.

Critical thinking had the highest R-squared value of 63.3%. This is a very strong

correlation to show that students felt motivated when they could use this skill while working on

their ALE.

Figure 4. Linear graph showing the correlation between Community of Learners and the total

sum of the survey.

Su m

o f C

rit ic

al T

hi nk

in g

Sc or

es

10

13

16

19

22

25

Total Sum 55 64 73 82 91 100

R² = 0.6331

Critical thinking Su

m o

f C om

m un

ity o

f Le

ar ne

rs S

co re

s

10

13

16

19

22

25

Total Sum

55 64 73 82 91 100

R² = 0.3874

Community of Learners

AUTHENTIC LEARNING EXPERIENCES !25

Though the R-squared value for Community of Learners was third highest with a value of

38.7%, it does shows a correlation between the motivation of the ALE as a whole and being able

to work in community with their classmates.

Figure 5. Linear graph showing the correlation between Student Choice and the total sum of the

survey.

Student choice in their learning had the lowest R-squared value. The 15.1% is much

lower than the other three characteristics and indicated this was the least motivating factor in

how the students felt about the ALE. Even as a lower score, 15.4% does show that students were

motivated by being able to have choice in their learning, but the lower score suggests that having

choice in their work was not as motivating to the students as the other three characteristics.

Interviews

This study sought to answer whether authentic learning experiences lead to greater levels

of motivation thus leading to greater engagement as students realize the importance of the work

Su m

o f S

tu de

nt C

ho ic

e Sc

or es

10

13

16

19

22

25

Total Sum

55 64 73 82 91 100

R² = 0.1514

Student Choice

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they are doing for their future lives. The interview responses of the eight randomly selected

students were overwhelmingly positive in regards to answering this research question. Their

answers reflected their attitudes in the four basic characteristics of an ALE.

Real world/real audience. The interviews showed that the students enjoyed connecting

with a real audience through the newspaper unit. Student C said that reading the articles written

by other students “helped me find joy when I’m busy or find joy when life isn’t really going my

way” (Student C interview, March 1, 2018). Student H said that they received reassurance from

reading other newspaper articles from fellow classmates because they felt that “my life is kind of

hard . . . but it made me get reassured that life will get better” (Student H interview, March 1,

2018). This student also said that publishing the newspaper allowed them “to show people

reading it that joy comes in many different ways and it’s not the same for everybody” (Student H

interview, March 1, 2018).

Having a real audience changed all of the students’ perspectives in how they wrote their

article. Student A said that it “changed the way I write when it’s meant to go to everyone instead

of just the teacher” (Student A interview, March 1, 2018) Student B said, “I tried harder to make

sure I represented myself and the class well” (Student B interview, March 1, 2018).

Having a connection to the real world and real audience changed the amount of effort

students put into their work. One hundred percent of the students commented in their own words

that the real audience made them work harder to publish a well-written article. Student D said,

“I wanted more people to see that I can do better than what I probably have done in the

past” (Student D interview, March 1, 2018). Student G responded, “I knew that people I knew

were going to read it and it had to be good because I had to put my name on it” (Student G

AUTHENTIC LEARNING EXPERIENCES !27

interview, March 1, 2018). Student B shared that she hoped “that people would know that the

sophomore class was a great class” because of their newspaper (Student B interview, March 1,

2018). On the negative side of a having a real audience, only one student, 12.5%, found a

downside of having a real audience. Student C stated “I don’t want people to know it’s from me”

(Student C interview, March 1, 2018).

Community of learners. Eighty-eight percent of the interviewed students found benefits

in working as a community to accomplish their project. Student A said that it was “fun to read

other people’s stories, where other people find joy in their lives” (Student A interview, March 1,

2018). Student B “loved seeing the creative ideas that the rest of the class did” (Student B

interview, March 1, 2018). Student G enjoyed connecting with the greater school community

through the newspaper. This student stated, “We got to interview different people and find out

about their stories of joy . . . that was really cool” (Student G interview, March 1, 2018). Student

F said that he felt “like I put a good amount of effort in for my team” (Student F interview,

March 1, 2018), and Student D said, “We each did our part and we got it done” (Student D

interview, March 1, 2018). Student H stated “It was nice to have people to hold me accountable”

(Student H interview, March 1, 2018). Two of the students agreed that they did the work because

they knew that their team was depending on them. Student F said that he “didn’t want to be the

weak link that drags everyone else down so you do your job, so I felt responsible for

that” (Student F interview, March 1, 2018) while Student E said she knew that “people were

counting on me” (Student E interview, March 1, 2018). Student B said that “Everyone did what

we assigned them to do, on time, and if someone didn’t get something done, we always helped

them. Yeah, I think we really did well together” (Student B interview, March 1, 2018). There

AUTHENTIC LEARNING EXPERIENCES !28

were negative feelings toward working as a team in 37% of those interviewed. Student C said

that she didn’t feel like her team worked that well together “because half the people on our team

don’t care,” and when asked her least favorite part of the project she simply stated, “Some of my

team members” (Student C interview, March 1, 2018). Student G said that “there was some

people who didn’t really do a lot and some people who did like all of it so it was a mix of people

who didn’t think they had to do anything and people who knew they had to do

everything” (Student G interview, March 1, 2018). Student A shared, “Depending on others, I’m

not always sure that they will do their best work and I wonder how that will affect how well my

final project will be” (Student A interview, March 1, 2018).

Critical thinking. Many of the responses showed that through the process of

interviewing people, students critically processed the true meaning of joy. They also had to use

their critical thinking and analyzing skills to work through the writing process on their articles.

Overall, 87% of the students commented on the need to think critically on this project. The

students wanted to use their critical thinking skills to submit a well-written article to their

newspapers. Student C said that she “just enjoyed learning about joy . . . because I need to work

on that” (Student C interview, March 1, 2018). Student D liked “learning about other people and

their stories” (Student D interview, March 1, 2018). Some of the interviewees made specific

applications to their own learning needs. Student B said that she “grew from it as a writer,

learning how to write more concise how to see things clearer, like grammatically, how to set up

things, so yes, think I grew from it” (Student B interview, March 1, 2018). Student H shared

that “I don’t say I’m very good at school but when I was correcting my paper I realized . . . it’s

not that bad actually” (Student H interview, March 1, 2018). Student D said that “if you don’t do

AUTHENTIC LEARNING EXPERIENCES !29

it right, just don’t do it at all. So I have to intentionally do as good as possible” (Student D

interview, March 1, 2018). And because of this project, Student H said, “I feel like I can do

school a lot better than I am” (Student H interview, March 1, 2018). Student D said that “At the

beginning it was a lot of work to do and at the end it wasn’t too hard.” Student D also stated that

he felt he needed to “do it right so you don’t get ridiculed for your specific article” (Student D

interview, March 1, 2018). Although Student B said that “The least thing I enjoyed would be

probably all the revisions we had to do,” she also said, “I know it is necessary” (Student B

interview, March 1, 2018). Student F shared that “I’m not a very good speller or with grammar,

so when I have to do something with a lot of spelling and grammar, it’s not my favorite because I

have to do a lot of correcting” (Student F interview, March 1, 2018).

Student-directed learning. The students had mixed reviews of being the directors of

their own learning. In regards to their ability to choose their own topic, Student G said, “I got to

know that part of their family and got to know them a lot more” because of whom she

interviewed for her article (Student G interview, March 1, 2018). Student F said, “I don’t know

my stepmom that well yet and I got to know her better” (Student H interview, March 1, 2018).

Eighty-seven percent of students said they felt personal satisfaction in their project. Student F

said, “I’m happy with my final project” (Student F interview, March 1, 2018), and Student B

said, “I can express myself through it” (Student B interview, March 1, 2018). Student E said that

he’d “never done anything like this before” (Student E interview, March 1, 2018). Only one of

the students interviewed said that he didn’t connect with his topic. Student D said that he didn’t

find personal meaning in the project because “just maybe the story I picked” (Student D

interview, March 1, 2018). Three of the students mentioned that the grade played a part in how

AUTHENTIC LEARNING EXPERIENCES !30

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