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Preparing Filipino students for employment via authentic learning

Jack Brazel
Jack Brazel
Regional Director, South East Asia






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What authentic learning does for career-preparedness?

According to its pioneer, Steve Revington, Authentic Learning is: “Real life learning. It is a style of learning that encourages students to create a tangible, useful, quality product/outcome to be shared with their world.” A proponent of practical learning, Revington noted the power of real-life experiences on student learning outcomes, and set about conceptualising a model to empower students to learn actively and meaningfully in a real-world setup. So, what does it mean for education today?

At the height of the pandemic, widespread disruption had caused students in the Philippines to suffer significant learning losses. According to the International Labour Organization, the side effects on the future of the nation’s workforce can be cushioned through remedial steps, such as educational support, training for technical skills, and soft skills for career-preparedness. Soft skills training plays a key role in honing students’ communication, critical thinking and problem solving, all of which are important in the workplace. Additionally, soft skills also help to develop collaboration skills, making a student more adaptable and open to effective teamwork.

After graduation, students enter a demanding environment that expects high levels of tech literacy from a generation referred to as “digital natives''. To increase employability, the Philippines Department of Education (DepEd) has made great strides in enhancing the digital literacy of Filipino youths. Along with relevant industry partners, DepEd focused on developing students’ critical skills by leveraging the use of educational technology for a seamless transition into the workplace.

With rapid digitalization set to continue, being technologically adept will be the minimum requirement for students to succeed in their professional lives. In turn, it will require educators to expand teaching methods to reflect these new expectations and hone students’ skills to thrive in an increasingly interconnected, globalised world.. Among the tasks at hand for educators is to reimagine how they traditionally provide constructive feedback to students, by embracing tech-enabled strategies that reveal patterns of performance and learning gaps and help inform teaching methods that improve learning outcomes.

The philosophy behind authentic learning advocates for the application of practical, embodied lessons as a powerful education tool. Likewise, formative learning, which uses frequent feedback loops to scaffold the learner at critical junctures of their journey and helps identify at-risk students, is another important method to engage and motivate students. Working in tandem, authentic learning and formative learning can be described as student-centred approaches to teaching which enrich the learning process. But how can educators be supported in the practical delivery of student-centred teaching?

A technology solution like Turnitin Feedback Studio, for instance, offers educators and students ample opportunities for scaffolding of learning goals via multiple feedback and assignment drafting features. This works to uphold the quality of student output by allowing for guided revision, and in the case of the Similarity Report, empowers students to self-correct issues with originality of writing or use of citations in their assignments. At the same time, authentic and competency-based tasks and assessments can be supported through Turnitin’s QuickMark Sets and rubric scorecards to evaluate student progress and engage meaningfully with students to align expectations and keep them informed and motivated towards learning targets.

Mindful of industry demand for digitally literate, adaptable workers, universities can equip students — and teachers — to meet learning benchmarks authentically, by adopting tech-enabled solutions. This allows teaching and learning to be tailored for the classrooms of today and be scaled in line with the needs of institutions.

Student agency in learning outcomes

Resourceful thinkers and original ideas are prized in society, and increasingly so as we strive to tackle global issues. These qualities can be cultivated through student-led learning that allows students to see the impact of their ideas and encourages them to exercise responsible decision-making regarding their learning performance and global citizenship that doesn’t sacrifice academic integrity. Furthermore the sense of agency gained from authentic learning promotes self-directed inquiry that bolsters students’ problem-solving skills. It also helps them navigate the challenges of peer collaboration and do so fairly, which will be vital when they join the workforce.

Authentic learning is meaningful learning that helps with information retention. This makes applying course concepts easier to “remember” and apply to the real working world. According to The Manila Times, the importance of investing in the right technology is crucial to increasing the capacity to execute such learning in a hybrid setting and keep students engaged. The benefit for educators is equally significant, with grading solutions that automate menial tasks reducing the time burden on teachers and empowering them to refocus efforts on improving teaching practice and curricula. A grading solution such as Feedback Studio or Gradescope helps teachers grade faster, more effectively and more consistently, allowing for more personalised feedback and opportunities for inclusive learning to ensure no student gets left behind. With precious time saved and access to powerful student learning analytics in the case of Gradescope, it puts educators and administrators in a better position to finetune course and assessment design.

The way forward for universities towards student career preparedness

Universities can enhance graduates’ career-preparedness by employing a student-facing teaching approach modelled on authentic learning principles and leveraging technology. This offers pathways to implement formative, low-stakes assessments that encourages constructive feedback, and supports students’ long-term development as lifelong learners and citizens.

Leveraging digital technology can no longer be viewed as a ‘nice to have’, but rather, indispensable to learning continuity and students’ skillset. In its bid to keep abreast with new expectations and for crisis-preparedness, the Philippines has provided internet access to all public schools. With blended learning becoming the norm, learning continuity is crucial to resilience, and technology offers avenues for educators to mimic the benefits of in-person learning while pivoting to the needs of today’s classrooms.

A tech-enabled framework also empowers all stakeholders to play an active role in upholding academic integrity. For instance, Our Lady of Fatima University reported a significant decline in plagiarism since adopting Feedback Studio in their blended learning modules. Its Similarity Report identifies unoriginal and improperly cited works which helps flag potential plagiarism for educator remediation, while helping students understand what constitutes academic misconduct and how to self-correct their academic writing.. With guidance on proper citations and instantaneous insights on how to improve their writing with a tool like Turnitin Draft Coach, students become more confident writers.

The increased adoption of online tools reflects the growth in teacher-student-peer collaboration as learning environments expand. Authentic learning is a key element of nurturing students to deeply understand curricula and meet course objectives. When educators are equipped with the tools to guide students down that path and learners themselves are empowered to see the value of their learning and take responsibility for outcomes, then higher education can continue to produce new workers that meet the needs of society.