The search for authentic practice across the disciplinary divide

This article describes the self-reflexive investigation of four first-year faculty at a comprehensive state university in Southern California. In professional development efforts to identify best practice, each of us explored and evaluated our teaching philosophies, strategies, and roles as both educators and researchers in the context of an institution for higher education. Issues related to our search for a personal and interdisciplinary definition of authentic teaching and learning were first suggested to us by the writing of Bain (2004), in his discussion of the “natural critical learning environment” (18). We researched other authors on this topic and conducted empirical investigations, eventually identifying four elements of authentic teaching and learning that cross disciplinary boundaries. These elements may be used as a model for authentically engaged teaching practices that can uphold standards while revitalizing teaching and learning in the contemporary college classroom. We also offer a collaborative model of professional development that should be used to enhance authentic best practices across the disciplinary divide.