Developing professional identity through authentic learning experiences

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Research and Development in Higher Education Vol. 39: The Shape of Higher Education

July, 2016, 391 pages
Published by
Melissa Davis & Allan Goody

This study proposes a simulation approach of designing authentic learning experiences with an attempt to develop students’ professional identity and capacity. The approach provides students with guaranteed exposures to professional roles and practices along with interventions from the instructor and practicing engineers through the simulation of a typical design project in civil engineering consulting firms. Students are required to develop designs collaboratively in teams for an on-going housing project based on the actual information and constraints of the site. A survey was administered to students about their professional identity development as well as the learning experiences. It was found that the approach created a sense of real-world experiences and had a positive impact on students’ professional identity development. This study offers a new approach of providing authentic learning experiences that are more relevant and meaningful to students’ future profession as well as more integrated with the academic curriculum while being less influenced by external, uncontrollable factors such as company or logistics arrangements.

Keywords: authentic learning, capstone course, professional identity development