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* Authentiek (dutch)



Authentic or Authenticity refers to:

  • Authentic learning
  • Authentic contexts (see also Context)
  • Authentic assessment

Authenticity can be important to support the 'relevance of knowledge' (the question of the student: why do I need to know this?). Maybe it promotes a deeper level of understanding for students.


Below some research in the area of authenticity.

Authentic in the research of Gjalt Prins (2010)

Prins used authentic motives for modeling drinking water treatment. They concluded that an authentic practice can offer inspiration for designing an environment that meaningfully involves students in modeling processes.

We define an authentic practice as a homogeneous group of people working on real-world problems and societal issues in a ‘community’ connected by three characteristic features (Bulte et al., 2005):

  1. having common motives and purposes, e.g. evaluation of the quality of a product or development of a new product,
  2. working according to a similar type of characteristic procedure leading to an outcome, e.g. procedure for quality assessment or design procedure,
  3. displaying apparent necessary knowledge about the issue they work on, e.g. chemical concepts (or science concepts in broader perspective).

Within such a practice the specific attitudes, characteristic procedures and issue knowledge play a natural role. The relevance of the skills and issue knowledge involved is not questioned, since the participants of such a practice have clear motives to use and extend these accordingly. In an authentic practice people connect the three above features in a meaningful way. Using an authentic practice as a context for chemistry education involves the implementation of the essential set of motives and purposes, the characteristic procedure and relevant issue knowledge in curriculum units. If we manage to actively involve learners in a practice and perform activities within this practice, they are expected to appreciate the implications of the concepts and give appropriate meanings (Psarros, 1998).

The design principle of context deals with involving learners in a focal event embedded in its cultural setting (Gilbert, 2006). This implies that the setting, the behavioural environment, the specific language and the extra-situational background knowledge are such that students become engaged in a modelling activity. We need to account for significant differences between experts, who in general are well-informed in the field in which they are employed, and learners, who lack basic affinity and essential background information. In addition, the school environment is completely different from the environments in which experts work, both in aims and cultural role and function in society. In short: what is authentic for experts is not equally authentic for learners. Thus, one of the first stages in adapting an authentic modelling practice is a careful analysis of the attributes which are already known and mastered by students, and the attributes which are within the ‘zone of proximal development’ of students. Using this information, students need to be introduced to the practice such that object-related motives for modeling will arise.


  1. The selection of the authentic practice to be adapted into a context for learning needs to be justified from educational points of view and students’ perspectives.
  2. The selected authentic practice needs to be adapted in order to design a meaningful teaching-learning process from students’ perspective.
  3. In spite of the (societal) importance and relevance of the selected authentic practices, which was underlined by students themselves, it is still hard to involve students in solving an example problem originating from that authentic practice. Apparently, the engagement of students draws heavily on their (intrinsic) motivation to learn. This puts an extra stress primarily on the outlining of learning phase I. The resulting recommendation is: make sure that students know why, what and how to do and learn in the remaining part of curriculum unit by means of visualisation of the example problem(s) and pointing out the generic content.
  4. In an authentic practice the experts employed have clear content-related motives for reflection, because they know that similar problems will arise. For students this argument is not valid, thus there is a need for other (educational) strategies to induce reflection. In earlier designs, reflection was positioned as a final activity for students, on the grounds that ‘students by then have a complete overview’. However, in classroom practice, the reflection stage was often simply skipped due to lack of time, students not being motivated (anymore) or not seeing the point of reflection.


  • The objectives in the adapted authentic practice should match the learning goals of pre-academic education;
  • The example problem(s) should be shaped and conceptualised such that it (they) become(s) recognisable for students;
  • An existing well defined procedure, in line with students’ intuitive notions, should be available from which a sequence of teaching-learning activities can be derived;
  • The chemistry (science) knowledge involved should be in line with students’ (cognitive) abilities;
  • Possible laboratory work, use of advanced computer tools, etc. should be practically feasible in the classroom.

Westbroek 2005

Westbroek (2005) based her educational materials on the professional practice of water quality testing to engage students in the question of how drinking and swimming water are tested in practice. In line with the problem-posing approach this helped students to predict the next step in testing water quality and develop the chemical knowledge required in this step. The students worked with measurement tools similar to, but simpler than, those used in actual practice. In this way, Westbroek designed an educational version of an authentic practice that gave students a clear goal and made the chemical knowledge to be learned meaningful to them.

Gulikers (2004)

  • to be translated to English (vincent, january 2013)
  • promotieonderzoek (mbo) voor authentieke assessment, begeleiding o.a. van Paul Kirschner, o.a. de ontwikkeling van het 5DM.

Dit heeft geleid tot de ontwikkeling van een vijf‐dimensionaal model (5DM) voor assessment authenticiteit. Dit model beschrijft vijf kenmerken die in meer of mindere mate overeenkomen met de beroepspraktijk en daarmee de authenticiteit van het assessment beïnvloeden. Deze vijf kenmerken zijn: (1) de assessment taak, (2) de fysieke context waarin het assessment plaatsvindt, (3) de sociale context van het assessment, (4) de resultaat/vorm van het assessment, en (5) de assessment criteria. In het 5DM worden deze dimensies verder opgesplitst in een aantal kenmerkende elementen dat bijdraagt aan de authenticiteit van de betreffende dimensie. Het 5DM wordt als uitgangspunt gebruikt voor het bestuderen en vergelijken van authenticiteitsbeliefs en ‐percepties van verschillende groepen deelnemers en de invloed hiervan op het leergedrag van studenten.

Wijers en Jonker (2004)

  • KLOO onderzoek: Authentic Contexts in Mathematics Textbooks for the Vocational Stream (research by the Freudenthal institute, Utrecht University, 2003-2004)

The purpose of this project was to evaluate the use of real-world contexts in modelling exercises in Dutch mathematics textbooks for grades 9 and 10 of the vocational streams in Dutch secondary education. The textbooks were used under the current applications-based curriculum. The authors developed a framework for authenticity in tasks:

  1. Geared towards the world, in which the students live (empathise, identify).
  2. Relevant and meaningful in out-of-school situations.
  3. Enabling the construction of knowledge within a complex task situation, whereby students can develop their own methods to solve the problem.
  4. In maximal accordance with reality of future professional practice (technical, agronomical, administrative, nursing).

In this study, the research team took a sample of tasks and developed a procedure to reliably score each task on authenticity characteristics. Results show that Dutch students in the vocational streams encounter a large number of context-based tasks with a low degree of authenticity in their mathematics textbooks. The study concludes with recommendations on the improvement of tasks towards more authenticity.


Versions of this document

  • 20130113, translated from dutch
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