About the Center

Our commitment is to fundamentally improve the quality of teaching and learning through transformative professional development using the AIW framework to foster deep reflective practice and skills for smart citizenship in the 21st century.


Realizing AIW’s Mission

The Center pursues its mission through three overarching approaches:

  • Ongoing professional development to teams of teachers in schools engaged in reform.
  • Direct consulting and technical assistance to Mission Allies interested in the power of AIW to further compatible teaching and learning goals
  • Contributing to the national conversation on educational reform through relevant presentations, publications and creation of resources.


AIW Professional Development

While conventional professional development emphasizes teaching techniques (lesson plan design, classroom discussion activities, use of hands-on materials, methods of review and testing, or disciplinary procedures), the Center focuses primarily on the quality of intellectual work teachers require and students produce.

The Center provides extensive opportunities for teachers to practice assessing the ways in which their lessons and assignments require student construction of knowledge, conceptual understanding, and elaborated communication to answer questions resembling the complex intellectual challenges of life outside school within the context of the subjects taught.

Ready for the hands-on experience? Attend one of our AIW Events.

The Center deliberately refrains from prescribing specific academic content to be taught in any grade or discipline. Instead, we focus on the intellectual authenticity of the work. How do the lessons and assignments maximize student production of authentic intellectual work? Since the standards for AIW can be applied across all subjects and grade levels, they provide a common framework and language for assessing the intellectual quality of instruction, assignments, and student work in any context, at any grade level.

Although our partnerships began with schools, we are expanding partnerships beyond traditional K-12 schools with organizations interested in transforming teaching and learning.

Center for AIW Origins

The research on Authentic Intellectual Work has been around since the mid-1990s when Dr. Fred Newmann and his colleagues at the University of Wisconsin developed the Framework for Authentic Pedagogy and Student Achievement. These efforts provided a strong research base connecting teaching, assessment and student learning. Efforts to share AIW Framework with teachers to influence their practice were isolated until 2007, when the Iowa Department of Education invested in a multi-year partnership to enhance the intellectual quality of student work in Iowa schools.

One year into the project, Dana Carmichael, Fred Newmann, and Bruce King co-founded the Center for Authentic Intellectual Work (AIW) to support AIW-Iowa project, which focused on improving teachers’ ability to design instruction and assessments to increase student authentic intellectual work.

Though originally intended as a high school reform, the project expanded to include any K-12 school or district by 2009 and continued until 2014. Now, AIW in Iowa is supported by the AIW-Iowa consortium, a non-profit organization committed to meeting the professional development needs for Iowa’s AIW schools.


Interested in learning more? Our center's team is happy to help. Contact Us