Creating a Technology-rich Authentic Learning Environment (TALE): Using a Mobile App to Engage Students in Real World Learning for Elements of Business Skills

Project Number
AFD 03/16 KNK

Project Duration
September 2016 - August 2019


The proposed project is a two-year translational study on technology-enhanced learning and its impact on creating educational effectiveness in secondary schools. It is motivated primarily by the key findings of the principal investigator’s prior study that are set within the contexts of the state’s growing interest in providing students with broad and deep learning for life (Education Minister Heng Swee Keat, 2013) and the imperative to support the kind of learning environments for generating innovation and productiveness for the knowledge economy in the 21st century. The proposed project expands on the methodological approach that has been used in an earlier study – “Retail Experience for Active Learning (REAL)”. The study investigated whether students learnt better when they were able to make meaningful connections between the school curriculum and their learning experiences at workplace environment (Koh, 2011). The findings revealed that experiential learning gained from the authentic environment of students’ work attachment contributed to their conceptual understanding of the academic subject, ‘Elements of Business Skills (EBS)’. The study also noted a cross transfer of knowledge and skills from the classroom to the workplace and vice-versa. An extension of the REAL study includes building an application that draws on the concept of gamification and the use of game mechanics such as rewarding students with points to motivate them to engage with their classroom academic learning, deciphering closely the backend analytics of the application, examining how learning and literacies are acquired across different environments, making interpretations of the transfer of learning and integrating such learning opportunities to the instructional or vocational education curriculum. In carrying out the comprehensive analysis of this translational study, a mixed method approach will be used. Quantitative data will be gathered using validated instruments, specifically the questionnaire on learning environment and an attitude instrument. The data collection will be facilitated by the application. The questionnaire responses will then be triangulated with the ethnographic data. Concepts grounded in Brown and Adler’s (2008) version of social learning, sociocultural uses of literacies and knowledge creation will be drawn upon to examine how students engage with learning within the different environments – within the classroom and outside classrooms, simulated and non-simulated (e.g. workplaces). Interviews with students and their teachers will also be conducted to understand more about students’ participation in their learning environments, and the relevance of such activities to the subject under study. The proposed study will shed light on how the formal school curriculum can be designed to seamlessly accommodate the educationally valuable learning that occurs outside classrooms and in authentic environments. It is also envisaged that the data from the backend analytics platform would help inform the design and review of the EBS course to the policymakers, curriculum specialists, teachers and NIE educators. The data can also be used to support schools in developing curriculum materials or activities around expanded learning and networked curriculum.

Funding Source

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