What is Authentic Learning?

The aim of authentic learning is to have students develop professional and disciplinary expertise and confidence.  Authentic learning involves students undertaking complex, sustained real-world tasks:

Authentic contexts, problems and projects may:  

  • be fuzzy, ill-defined and unpredictable. Students will need support to be comfortable with uncertainty and ambiguity. This support may involve designing low stakes, developmental tasks that enable students to practice, take intellectual/creative risks and to receive formative feedback.
  • require students to pose their own real-world research questions, choose their methodological approach, define their own tasks and sub-tasks and manage their project. Students will need to be supported to develop skills and capabilities to succeed in these tasks. 
  • involve collaboration and working in teams. Students will need to be supported to develop skills and capabilities in collaboration and management of teams, including inter-personal skills, cultural capabilities & awareness, time management and project management.

What are some examples of practice?

Authentic learning involves tasks & assignments undertaken in actual or simulated environments, such as:
  • Investigating real-life scenarios
    • Conducting a needs analysis/audit
  • Applying theories to real-world problems
    • Engaging in a complex project that involves field work/lab work
    • Engaging in hackathons
    • Writing a letter of advice to a client
    • Working with a client/stakeholder group
  • Engaging in complex & ill-defined problem definition, analysis and problem solving in real-world contexts
    • Engaging in a complex project that involves field work/lab work
    • Engaging in hackathons
    • Writing a letter of advice to a client
    • Working with a client/stakeholder group
  • Producing materials/performances/products relevant to industry/professional contexts
    • Producing a professional report/brief/policy
    • Interviewing a client
    • Writing a letter of advice to a client
    • Working with a client/stakeholder group
    • Performing in professional environments
    • Producing an artefact that mimics a professional product
    • Developing a professional learning network via social media
    • Developing a professional online presence & personal social media strategy
    • Undertaking designated WIL/employability activities
    • Undertaking industry/community projects/service learning/practicum/work placement/internship
    • Undertaking industry networking 
    • Engaging in capstone experiences
    • Undertaking career development activities 
    • Developing a portfolio reporting on graduate attributes
    • Engaging in co-curricular activities
  • Engaging in social enterprise & entrepreneurship
    • Developing social enterprise & entrepreneurship projects
  • Considering social, cultural, economic and environmental factors in personal, local, national & global real-world contexts
    • Engaging in a complex project that involves field work/lab work
    • Engaging in hackathons
    • Writing a letter of advice to a client
    • Working with a client/stakeholder group

Course Design Standards

2. ENGAGING AND EMPOWERING PEDAGOGIES

We foster active, authentic and collaborative approaches to learning to build our students’ professional capability and confidence and cultivate their ability to learn effectively in work contexts.

Why is Authentic Learning Important?

Authentic learning has a number of benefits for learning:

  • Authentic learning involves designing learning to support students engaging with the ideas and challenges that they will encounter in their current and future life and work.
  • Authentic learning is motivating to students as they can see the relevance to their lives, professional goals and aspirations.
  • As many authentic tasks are complex and open-ended, students have more freedom and agency to be innovative, creative and entrepreneurial.

Authentic tasks can develop students’ skills, capabilities & attributes such as:

  • Professional judgement, problem solving & decision making
  • Written & oral communication
  • Digital literacies, including social network literacy
  • Project management & time management
  • Self-regulation & critical reflection
  • Collaboration & teamwork
  • Cultural capability, effectiveness & awareness
  • Innovation, creativity & entrepreneurship
  • Social responsibility, including considering the social, cultural, economic & environmental impact of problems & decisions

Digital tools

  • Tools used in professional contexts/settings (communication tools, social media, production & presentation tools, specific professional/disciplinary software applications, data analysis applications, project management applications)
  • Simulated/virtual environments
  • PebblePad

Further Reading