The term authenticity has a few meanings in this course. Firstly, the course is meant to be authentic in the sense of giving you practical skills (rather than just information that you memorize and later regurgitate). These skills cover both discipline-specific ones (e.g., programming, data science, critical thinking), and domain-general, or what are sometimes called 21st century skills (e.g., team work, remote work, time management, project management). The course is also authentic in that you will be working almost entirely with real neuroscience data, collected in a variety of labs at Dalhousie University’s Department of Psychology and Neuroscience.
Assessments and evaluations also aim to be authentic, in the sense that they are designed to help you self-improve (assessment) and to determine how well you’ve met the course learning objectives. The summative evaluations (assignments and projects) are also authentic in the sense that you will be asked to do the sorts of things to research data that you would be expected to do in a lab.
This course also aims to give you experiences that are similar to what you might experience in a real workplace, especially outside academia. This is described below in the 21st Century Skills section.
As an instructor, I commit to bringing my authentic self to class. I’ve developed this course because I’m passionate about the topic and about teaching. As well — within the limits of a relationship where I ultimately assign a grade to you — I aim to be your “guide on the side” to support and encourage your learning as another human being, and not a “sage on the stage” whom you should address with reverence. I encourage you to address me by my first name (Aaron) and I try to maintain a casual tone in class and in my lectures.
Authenticity also refers to you. You need to take this class because you want to master the skills, not because you want a credit or a grade. This is not a class you can avoid for a while and then cram at the end — it requires ongoing, active engagement and steady work. It should also go without saying that academic dishonestly will not be tolerated. Per Dalhousie University policy, any suspected case of academic dishonestly will be immediately reported to the Academic Integrity Officer. The individualized nature of the assignments makes it very hard to copy someone else’s work, and the formative evaluations would be ridiculous to even think about cheating on.