Authenticity in Project Based Learning: Building Community


The benefits of using authentic material as a form of input in Project-Based Learning are well established, but creating authentic output and audience still remains a formidable challenge. The aim of this presentation is to report on a project designed for a third-year class of English majors in a Japanese university. The project had the practical goal of using computer and web building skills to generate useful pedagogical based content. More importantly, however learners gained the experience of becoming the producers of authentic output that went across the borders of their classroom and had a permanence that is not common in most classroom activities. Website building was introduced to capture, maintain and then distribute to our first-year students the knowledge that our senior students gained of learning a second language. Learners were able to share their expertise on a wide variety of topics ranging from practical classroom issues such as methods of increasing vocabulary to dealing with home-stay issues while studying abroad. Benefits accrued not only to the producers of the material, but also the first-year consumers. Murphey (1997) found that using near peer role models of similar age, of the same culture and L1 language can increase motivation and lead to changes in students’ beliefs about risk-taking, making mistakes and their chances of success in learning a second language. A CALL element to this project was also important in developing a sense of community in the university language program that will be sustainable for future years.

Author Information
Michael Stockwell, Sugiyama Jogakuen University, Japan

Paper Information
Conference: ACTC2015
Stream: e-learning and collaborative learning

This paper is part of the ACTC2015 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon