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Authentic Learning for the 21st Century: An Overview

Authentic Learning
for the 21st Century:
An Overview
By Marilyn M. Lombardi
Edited by Diana G. Oblinger
ELI Paper 1: 2007
May 2007
Learning-by-doing is generally considered the most effective way to learn. The
Internet and a variety of emerging communication, visualization, and simulation
technologies now make it possible to offer students authentic learning experiences
ranging from experimentation to real-world problem solving. This white paper
explores what constitutes authentic learning, how technology supports it, what makes
it effective, and why it is important.
Authentic Learning for the 21st Century
Students say they are motivated by solving real-world problems. They often express a
preference for doing rather than listening. At the same time, most educators consider
learning-by-doing the most effective way to learn. Yet for decades, authentic learning has
been difficult to implement. Certain experiments are too dangerous, difficult, or expensive to
conduct in the classroom; many are simply impossible to perform. After all, educators cannot
expect their students to set the tectonic plates in motion, summoning up an earthquake at
will, or to travel back in time and replay decisive moments in the American Civil War, can
they? Well, perhaps they can.
Thanks to the emergence of a new set of technological tools, we can offer students a more
authentic learning experience based on experimentation and action. With the help of the
Internet and a variety of communication, visualization, and simulation technologies, large
numbers of undergraduates can begin to reconstruct the past, observe phenomena using
remote instruments, and make valuable connections with mentors around the world. With
access to online research communities, learners are able to gain a deeper sense of a
discipline as a special “culture” shaped by specific ways of seeing and interpreting the world.
They begin to grasp the subtle, interpersonal, and unwritten knowledge that members in a
community of practice use (often unconsciously) on a daily basis. “Learning becomes as
much social as cognitive, as much concrete as abstract, and becomes intertwined with
judgment and exploration,”1 just as it is in an actual workplace.
Developmental psychologist Jerome Bruner reminds us that there is a tremendous difference
between learning about physics and learning to be a physicist. Isolated facts and formulae do
not take on meaning and relevance until learners discover what these tools can do for them.2
As George Siemens suggests, learning to be a physicist, a chemist, or an historian is all
about forging concrete connections—interpersonal connections between apprentices and
mentors, intellectual connections between the familiar and the novel, personal connections
between the learner’s own goals and the broader concerns of the discipline.3
Connection-building will require new forms of authentic learning—forms that cut across
disciplines and bring students into meaningful contact with the future employers, customers,
clients, and colleagues who will have the greatest stake in their success. Without a doubt,
technology will play an essential supporting role. This white paper presents an overview of
authentic learning, beginning with a set of basic questions:
What is authentic learning?
How does IT support authentic learning?
What makes authentic learning effective?
Why is authentic learning important?
What Is Authentic Learning?
Authentic learning typically focuses on real-world, complex problems and their solutions,
using role-playing exercises, problem-based activities, case studies, and participation in
virtual communities of practice. The learning environments are inherently multidisciplinary.
They are “not constructed in order to teach geometry or to teach philosophy. A learning
environment is similar to some ‘real world’ application or discipline: managing a city, building
a house, flying an airplane, setting a budget, solving a crime, for example.”4 Going beyond
Authentic Learning for the 21st Century
content, authentic learning intentionally brings into play multiple disciplines, multiple
perspectives, ways of working, habits of mind, and community.
Students immersed in authentic learning activities cultivate the kinds of “portable skills” that
newcomers to any discipline have the most difficulty acquiring on their own:
The judgment to distinguish reliable from unreliable information
The patience to follow longer arguments
The synthetic ability to recognize relevant patterns in unfamiliar contexts
The flexibility to work across disciplinary and cultural boundaries to generate innovative
Learning researchers have distilled the essence of the authentic learning experience down to
10 design elements, providing educators with a useful checklist that can be adapted to any
subject matter domain.6
1. Real-world relevance: Authentic activities match the real-world tasks of professionals in
practice as nearly as possible. Learning rises to the level of authenticity when it asks
students to work actively with abstract concepts, facts, and formulae inside a realistic—
and highly social—context mimicking “the ordinary practices of the [disciplinary] culture.”7
2. Ill-defined problem: Challenges cannot be solved easily by the application of an existing
algorithm; instead, authentic activities are relatively undefined and open to multiple
interpretations, requiring students to identify for themselves the tasks and subtasks
needed to complete the major task.
3. Sustained investigation: Problems cannot be solved in a matter of minutes or even hours.
Instead, authentic activities comprise complex tasks to be investigated by students over a
sustained period of time, requiring significant investment of time and intellectual
4. Multiple sources and perspectives: Learners are not given a list of resources. Authentic
activities provide the opportunity for students to examine the task from a variety of
theoretical and practical perspectives, using a variety of resources, and requires students
to distinguish relevant from irrelevant information in the process.
5. Collaboration: Success is not achievable by an individual learner working alone.
Authentic activities make collaboration integral to the task, both within the course and in
the real world.
6. Reflection (metacognition): Authentic activities enable learners to make choices and
reflect on their learning, both individually and as a team or community.
7. Interdisciplinary perspective: Relevance is not confined to a single domain or subject
matter specialization. Instead, authentic activities have consequences that extend
beyond a particular discipline, encouraging students to adopt diverse roles and think in
interdisciplinary terms.
8. Integrated assessment: Assessment is not merely summative in authentic activities but is
woven seamlessly into the major task in a manner that reflects real-world evaluation
Authentic Learning for the 21st Century
9. Polished products: Conclusions are not merely exercises or substeps in preparation for
something else. Authentic activities culminate in the creation of a whole product, valuable
in its own right.
10. Multiple interpretations and outcomes: Rather than yielding a single correct answer
obtained by the application of rules and procedures, authentic activities allow for diverse
interpretations and competing solutions.
Educational researchers have found that students involved in authentic learning are
motivated to persevere despite initial disorientation or frustration, as long as the exercise
simulates what really counts—the social structure and culture that gives the discipline its
meaning and relevance.8 The learning event essentially encourages students to compare
their personal interests with those of a working disciplinary community: “Can I see myself
becoming a member of this culture? What would motivate me? What would concern me?
How would I work with the people around me? How would I make a difference?”
Colleges and universities across the country are turning to authentic learning practices and
putting the focus back on the learner in an effort to improve the way students absorb, retain,
and transfer knowledge. Following are examples of authentic learning practices and their
Simulation-Based Learning
The Mekong e-Sim is an online learning environment that uses simulation and role-playing to
immerse students in the complexities of authentic decision making, helping them develop the
communication, collaboration, and leadership skills they will need to be successful
practitioners in their fields. By asking students to assume the identities of stakeholders in the
Mekong River Basin of Southeast Asia and debate the merits of a proposed development
project, the Mekong e-Sim offers a structured method of exposing students to the wide range
of social, political, economic, and scientific conflicts that affect complex engineering projects,
particularly those that may be multinational in scope. Students from different disciplinary
backgrounds (including civil, environmental, telecommunications, software, and mechanical)
have used this learning tool to collaborate with others on authentic problems of global
importance. (See <>.)
Student-Created Media
Students in The University of British Columbia’s Department of Classical, Near Eastern, and
Religious Studies have created 3D virtual reconstructions of the ancient Athenian marketplace
known as the agora and were required to present a rationale for the design choices they made
as they built their replicas of the agora’s theater, museum, and mint. Working from forensic
evidence, including data from aerial photos, satellite images, surface surveys, topographic
maps, structure measurements, and what is known as the “material culture assemblage”—or
the accumulation of shards (pottery, stone tools, and so on) found on the occupation layers of
the site—students employing the Ancient Spaces 3D model editor are able to learn by doing or,
more precisely, learn by reconstructing key architectural and artistic environments of the
ancient world. (See <>.)
Authentic Learning for the 21st Century
Inquiry-Based Learning (Open Learning Initiative)
At Carnegie Mellon University, cognitive scientists are teamed with expert faculty in a
variety of disciplines to reach an understanding of where novices commonly run into trouble
when introduced to unfamiliar material in a particular field. With this information in hand, the
teams design Web-based courses that are “cognitively guided,” providing students with the
scaffolding they need at every stage of their development as preprofessionals. For
example, an instructor teaching a course on the mathematics that underlie chemistry asks
students to investigate a real-world problem: arsenic contamination of the water supply in
Bangladesh. Learners are introduced to key concepts and practice targeted skills while
instructors, aware of common student misunderstandings, check for comprehension and
provide feedback. Using additional “what if” questions, instructors help students continue to
think flexibly about applying their newly acquired skills to other situations. (See
Peer-Based Evaluation
Calibrated Peer Review (CPR) is a free Web-based program that allows instructors to
incorporate frequent writing assignments into their courses, regardless of class size, without
increasing their grading workload. Students are trained to be competent reviewers and are
then given the responsibility of providing their classmates with personalized feedback on
expository writing assignments. Meanwhile, with access to all student work, instructors can
monitor the class as a whole and assess the progress of each student. The CPR system
manages the entire peer-review process, including assignment creation, electronic paper
submission, student training in reviewing, student input analysis, and final performance report
preparation. (See <>.)
Working with Remote Instruments
Through a browser interface, MIT makes it possible for students around the world to
conduct experiments with specialized equipment located on the MIT campus, including a
shake table that simulates earthquakes and a sensor-equipped flagpole that measures
meteorological parameters. Software agents oversee instrument usage, assigning priorities
to individual experiments. For students without immediate access to expensive specialized
equipment or extremely rare scientific instruments, this approach can open the door to
active learning experiences that would otherwise be beyond their reach. (See
Working with Research Data
In disciplines from ornithology to social history, students are becoming legitimate peripheral
participants in virtual communities of practice, collecting data either first-hand or through
remotely located smart sensors. In other cases, students use data collected by researchers
(such as virtual sky data accessible through the National Science Digital Library Project) to
conduct their own investigations. They are practicing higher-order analysis on real data sets
while contributing to the common knowledge base.
Authentic Learning for the 21st Century
Reflecting and Documenting Achievements
In 2001, the mechanical engineering faculty at UT Austin needed a way of documenting
and sharing student projects, tracking the achievement of learning objectives, reinforcing
the link between class work and real-world engineering concerns, and encouraging
students to reflect on their own learning processes. Polaris, an in-house e-portfolio system,
was created. UT engineering students not only use their e-portfolios to showcase their best
work and evaluations for prospective employers; Polaris also supports the learning
process. The system uses a “metacognitive” strategy that encourages students to study
their own learning patterns in an effort to improve their performance over time. In addition,
a feedback cycle allows students to post their individual work electronically, perform intra-
group and extra-group reviews, question project assumptions, and learn to critique their
peers constructively, as they must do throughout their engineering careers. See
How Does IT Support Authentic Learning?
Authentic learning is not new. It was the primary mode of instruction for apprentices who later
took their places within established craft guilds. At one time apprenticeship was the most
common form of learning. However, as the numbers of students grew in the 19th century, the
logistics and economics of transporting large numbers of students to relevant work sites
made large-scale apprenticeship programs impractical. Other risks emerge associated with
managing the activities of novices in workplaces, opening institutions up to significant liability
should student interns injure themselves or others.9
Significantly, educational researchers are coming to the conclusion that “the value of
authentic activity is not constrained to learning in real-life locations and practice, but that the
benefits of authentic activity can be realized through careful design of Web-based learning
environments.”10 Today’s Web-based learning environments give students access to many of
the same resources that professionals use in their research.
With Web-based access to radio astronomy data, for example, students have discovered
stars overlooked by veteran researchers. History students with access to American Civil War
archives are drawing their own conclusions about the history and sociology of the time.11 With
online access to remote instruments, students are using rare or expensive equipment to run
experiments and interpret data for themselves. In the process, they are dealing with
incomplete and uncertain information, coming to grips with complex patterns, and realizing
the messiness of real-life research where there may not be a single right answer.
Technology is also providing access to phenomena that might otherwise remain opaque to
many novices, particularly so-called experiential learners. Software visualizations, images,
audio, and haptics bring abstractions to life. For instance, when scientific, mathematic, and
engineering concepts require learners to build abstract mental models that involve invisible
factors, such as intangible force fields and interactions among charged particles, visualization
and haptic devices can be used to help learners feel force, pressure, and temperature.12
However, access to digital archives, databases, instruments, or even haptic devices may not
guarantee an authentic learning experience without the most important factor: community
participation. In authentic learning situations, tasks are accomplished collaboratively, whether
or not distance is involved. Educators can use Web-based communication tools to help
students collaborate with one another, sharing and constructing knowledge. Social
Authentic Learning for the 21st Century
networking tools such as, or citation management tools for researchers such as
Connotea, can help learners find a broader community willing to share information and
references. And students can reflect on their learning and performance by taking “snapshots”
of their group activities with the help of blogs, e-portfolios, quizzes, and video-capture tools.
Authentic learning can rely on educational software developed to simulate typical scenarios
that professionals encounter in real-world settings. Along with communications tools, these
online experiences often integrate intelligent tutoring systems, concept mapping, immediate
feedback, and opportunities for reflection, including the chance to replay recorded events and
adopt alternative decision paths. For example, when educational researchers reported that
new teachers were having difficulty translating the theories they learned in graduate school
into effective real-world practice, developers at the University of Wollongong, the University of
Missouri, and Nanyang Technological University in Singapore devised educational software
that would help them manage behavioral and learning issues in the classroom. The software
taps into the various pressure situations and emotions teachers are likely to experience as
they engage their students in a lesson.13 As the simulation unfolds, the new teacher plans
and implements a lesson, views the effects of the lesson from multiple student perspectives,
receives feedback and advice from online mentors, and explores alternatives by pausing or
repeating the entire learning episode. The simulation also makes use of research data
documenting the way exemplary teachers manage behavioral and learning issues in
classroom settings.
Finally, some technologies allow students to cohabit the same persistent simulation (or
“metaverse”), engaging in collaborative role-playing, grappling with multiple perspectives on
the same set of issues, and responding to a dynamically changing situation.14 In the future,
vivid simulations of clinics, schools, laboratories, and other workplaces may augment the
conventional internship experience, but only if they offer learners immediate access to one
another, to an extended family of mentors, and to the resources of the global network.
Technological support for today’s authentic learning environments commonly includes:
High-speed Internet connectivity for provision of multimedia information, including
dynamic data and practical visualizations of complex phenomena and access to remote
instrumentation in conjunction with expert advice.
Asynchronous and synchronous communication and social networking tools for the
support of teamwork, including collaborative online investigation, resource sharing, and
knowledge construction.
Intelligent tutoring systems, virtual laboratories, and feedback mechanisms that capture
rich information about student performance and help students transfer their learning to
new situations.
Mobile devices for accessing and inputting data during field-based investigations.
What Makes Authentic Learning Effective?
Authentic learning aligns with research into the way the human mind turns information into
useful, transferable knowledge. Cognitive scientists are developing a comprehensive portrait
of the learner. Three principles illustrate the alignment between learning research and
authentic learning:
Authentic Learning for the 21st Century
Learners look for connections: When we approach a subject for the first time, we
immediately try to perceive the relevance of the new concept to our lived experience.
When a new piece of information simply doesn’t fit in any of our existing knowledge
structures (or “schemas”), it is often rejected. This means that the more encouragement a
learner has to become invested in material on a personal level, the easier it will be to
assimilate the unfamiliar.
Long-lived attachments come with practice: Concepts need to be “aired” repeatedly and
regularly, defended against attack, deployed in new contexts, and associated with new
settings, activities, and people. Otherwise, the attachment is broken and the information
New contexts need to be explored: The concepts being learned are always part of a
much larger “learning event” and are directly linked in the learner’s mind with social
circumstances—the setting, the activities, the people.16
Along with this emerging learner profile, cognitive scientists are studying the mind-set of the
educator or subject matter expert, with some illuminating results.
Experts have blind spots:17 Most faculty receive little or no training in the art and science
of instruction and tend to rely on their intuitions about how novices learn. Current learning
research demonstrates that those intuitions are commonly faulty simply because the
instructor is an expert in the field. The longer experts continue to work in their discipline,
the further removed they become from the perspective of the novice. Known as “the
expert’s blind spot,” this inability to recognize (or empathize with) beginning students’
difficulties can lead expert instructors to teach in a manner that makes sense from their
perspective but not necessarily from the student’s perspective.18
Educators evoke feelings: The teacher-as-facilitator can make or break a learning event.
Learning methods evoke feelings in students that reinforce, support, or detract from
knowledge construction.19 Since even the cleverest team of students dealing with
complex, sustained investigations may have difficulty making good judgments in the
absence of appropriate “scaffolding,” it is the educator’s role to design appropriate
comprehension checks and feedback loops into the authentic learning exercise,
preferably the very kinds of interventions commonly exhibited in real-world settings. For
example, students engaged in publishing a peer-reviewed journal will evaluate each other
over the course of the project and may receive additional guidance from the educator in
the role of publisher or editorial board member.
Higher education should include the conative domain: Instructors that provide engaging
activities supported by the proper scaffolding can help students develop expertise across
all four domains of learning:
Cognitive capacity to think, solve problems, and create
Affective capacity to value, appreciate, and care
Psychomotor capacity to move, perceive, and apply physical skills
Conative capacity to act, decide, and commit
Researchers warn that higher education has focused for too long on inculcating and
assessing those cognitive skills that are relatively easy to acquire—remembering,
understanding, and applying—rather than the arguably more important skills of analyzing,
evaluating, and creating.20 Moreover, in developing these lower-order thinking skills,
educators have largely ignored the other major learning domains, particularly the conative,
Authentic Learning for the 21st Century
which determines whether a student has the necessary will, desire, commitment, mental
energy, and self-determination to actually perform at the highest disciplinary standards. By
engaging students in issues of concern to them, from global warming to world hunger,
authentic learning awakens in learners the confidence to act.
Those who adopt innovative learning strategies must be ready to adjust their assessment
strategies accordingly. Otherwise, the purpose of the entire enterprise may well be defeated.
There are eight critical factors that researchers say must be aligned to ensure a successful
learning environment:
instructional design
learner tasks
instructor roles
student roles
technological affordances
An educator can introduce authentic content, replacing textbooks with historical documents
and scientific data from remote sensors. She can design problem-based activities to replace
lectures. She can expect students to collaborate with one another (despite student resistance
to these active requirements). She can even surrender some of her own power as an expert
to join students as a colearners. And she can support all this innovation with visualizations,
simulations, and interactive technologies. Still, she may not achieve her goals if she neglects
to rethink her assessment strategies.
After all, what is the use of adopting loftier goals for yourself and your students if you
continue to use multiple-choice tests that seek the “right” answer, capturing only the lower-
level knowledge that is easiest to measure? Rather than relying on a single assessment
method, instructors who adopt authentic learning methods must analyze multiple forms of
evidence to measure student performance, including observations of student engagement
and artifacts produced in the process of completing tasks.21
Why Is Authentic Learning Important?
Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger argue that all would-be scientists, mathematicians,
engineers, and historians need to be “enculturated” into the discipline—and the earlier, the
better.22 Along with memorizing facts and practicing technical procedures, beginning students
should be learning what John Seely Brown calls the “genres” of the discipline—the schema
through which full members of the disciplinary community “recognize whether a problem is an
important problem, or a solution an elegant solution, or even what constitutes a solution in the
first place.”23 What’s more, students should know what it feels like for actual stakeholders
beyond the classroom to hold them accountable for their work products. So, whether the
learning activity results in a business plan, a set of design specifications, a presentation to
the city council, or a short film, evaluation occurs naturally over the course of the project,
coming from several sources (as it would in real life), including peers, supervisors, and
Authentic Learning for the 21st Century
clients. The goal is to give learners the confidence that comes with being recognized as
“legitimate peripheral participants” in a community of practice.
Authentic learning may be more important than ever in a rapidly changing world, where the
half-life of information is short and individuals can expect to progress through multiple
careers. According to Frank Levy and Richard Murnane, expert thinking and complex
communication will differentiate those with career-transcending skills from those who have
little opportunity for advancement.24 Expert thinking involves the ability to identify and solve
problems for which there is no routine solution. This requires pattern recognition and
metacognition. Another differentiator is complex communication, such as persuading,
explaining, negotiating, gaining trust, and building understanding. Although foundational skills
(reading, writing, mathematics, history, language) remain essential, a more complex set of
competencies are required today. These go beyond being technically competent to being
able to get things done, demonstrate ethics and integrity, and work well with others.
According to employers, the most important skills in new hires include teamwork, critical
thinking/reasoning, assembling/organizing information, and innovative thinking/creativity.25
Why isn’t authentic learning more common? The reliance on traditional instruction is not
simply a choice made by individual faculty—students often prefer it. This resistance to active
learning may have more to do with their epistemological development than a true preference
for passivity. Entering freshmen are likely to use a right-or-wrong, black-or-white mental
model. At this dualistic stage, students believe that the “right answer exists somewhere for
every problem, and authorities know them. Right answers are to be memorized by hard
work.”26 By confronting students with uncertainty, ambiguity, and conflicting perspectives,
instructors help them develop more mature mental models that coincide with the problem-
solving approaches used by experts. Authentic learning exercises expose the messiness of
real-life decision making, where there may not be a right or a wrong answer per se, although
one solution may be better or worse than others depending on the particular context. Such a
nuanced understanding involves considerable reflective judgment, a valuable lifelong skill
that goes well beyond the memorization of content.27
To be competitive in a global job market, today’s students must become comfortable with the
complexities of ill-defined real-world problems. The greater their exposure to authentic
disciplinary communities, the better prepared they will be “to deal with ambiguity” and put into
practice the kind of “higher order analysis and complex communication” required of them as
1. Brown, J. S. (1999, March). Learning, working, and playing in the digital age. Presented at the American
Association for Higher Education Conference on Higher Education. Retrieved April 24, 2007, from
2. As cited in Van Oers, B., & Wardekker, K. (1999). On becoming an authentic learner: Semiotic activity in the
early grades. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 31(2), 229–249.
3. Siemens, G. (2004). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. Retrieved April 24, 2007, from
4. Downes, S. (2007). Emerging Technologies for Learning. Coventry, U.K.: Becta. Retrieved April 24, 2007, from
Authentic Learning for the 21st Century
5. Jenkins, H., Clinton K., Purushotma, R., Robinson, A.J., & Weigel, M. (2006). Confronting the challenges of
participatory culture: Media education for the 21st century. Chicago, IL: The MacArthur Foundation. Retrieved
April 24, 2007, from
6. Reeves, T. C., Herrington, J., & Oliver, R. (2002). Authentic activities and online learning. Annual Conference
Proceedings of Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia. Perth, Australia. Retrieved
April 24, 2007, from
7. Brown, J. S., Collins, A., & Duguid, P. (1988). Situated cognition and the culture of learning (Report No. IRL 88-
0008). Palo Alto, CA: Institute for Research on Learning; see also, Collins, A., Brown, J. S., & Newman, S. E.
(1989). Cognitive apprenticeship: Teaching the craft of reading, writing, and mathematics. In L. B. Resnick
(Ed.), Knowing, learning, and instruction: Essays in honor of Robert Glaser (pp. 453–493). Hillsdale, NJ:
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.
8. Herrington, J., Oliver R., & Reeves, T. C. (2003). Patterns of engagement in authentic online learning
environments. Australian Journal of Educational Technology, 19(1), 59–71. Retrieved April 24, 2007, from
9. Herrington et al., op. cit.
10. Herrington, J., Reeves, T., Oliver R., & Woo, Y. (2002). Designing authentic activities for Web-based courses.
In G. Richards (Ed.), Proceedings of World Conference on E-Learning in Corporate, Government, Healthcare,
and Higher Education 2001, (pp. 18–27). Chesapeake, VA: AACE.
11. Ayers, E. (2002, November). Putting content first: The Valley of the Shadow project and institutional change.
Presented at the 2002 ECAR Symposium, Coronado, CA.
12. Bertoline, G. R., & Dorjgotov E. (2007). The impact of computer-simulated haptic force feedback on learning.
Presented at ELI Spring Focus Session: Immersive Learning Environments: New Paths to Interaction and
Engagement. Retrieved April 24, 2007, from
13. Ferry, B., Kervin, L., Cambourne B., Turbill, J., Puglisi S., Jonassen, D., & Hedberg, J. (2004). Online classroom
simulation: The next wave for pre-service teacher education? Australasian Society for Computers in Learning in
Tertiary Education (ASCILITE). Retrieved April 24, 2007, from
14. Herrington, J., & Oliver, R. (2000). An instructional design framework for authentic learning environments.
Educational Technology Research and Development, 48(3), 23–48. Retrieved April 24, 2007, from design_files/ETR&D.pdf
15. Bahr, N., & Rohner, C. (2004). The judicious utilization of new technologies through authentic learning in higher
education: A case study. Annual Conference Proceedings of Higher Education Research and Development
Society of Australasia. Miki, Sarawak (Malaysia). Retrieved April 24, 2007, from
16. First defined from the cognitive perspective by Alfred North Whitehead, inert knowledge is information students
can express but not use. Cf. Bereiter, C. & Scardamalia, M. (1985). Cognitive coping strategies and the problem
of “inert knowledge.” In Chipman, S. F., Segal, J. W., & Glaser, R. (Eds.). Thinking and learning skills. Hillside
NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.
17. For more on the use of use of the phrase among cognitive psychologists, see Nathan, M. J., & Petrosino, A. J.
(2003). Expert blind spot among preservice teachers. American Educational Research Journal. 40(4), 905–928.
18. Ibid.
19. Goleman, D. (1996). Emotional intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ. London: Bloomsbury.
20. Ibid.
Authentic Learning for the 21st Century
21. Reeves, T. C. (2006). How do you know they are learning?: The importance of alignment in higher education.
International Journal of Learning Technology, 2(4), 302–304.
22. Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press.
23. Brown, op. cit.
24. Levy, F., & Murnane, R. (2005). The new division of labor: How computers are creating the next job market.
Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
25. Hart, P. (2006). How should colleges prepare students to succeed in today’s global economy? Retrieved April
24, 2007, from
26. Perry, W. G. Jr. (1981). Cognitive and ethical growth: The making of meaning. In A. W. Chickering (Ed.). The
modern american college (p. 79). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
27. Charlotte Briggs, personal communication, March 30, 2007.
28. Dede, C., Korte S., Nelson, R., Valdez, G., & Ward, D. J. (2005). Transforming learning for the 21st century: An
economic imperative. Naperville, IL: Learning Point Associates. Retrieved April 24, 2007, from
The EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI) is a community of higher education institutions and organizations committed to
advancing learning through IT innovation. To achieve this mission, ELI focuses on learners, learning principles and
practices, and learning technologies. We believe that using IT to improve learning requires a solid understanding of
learners and how they learn. It also requires effective practices enabled by learning technologies. We encourage
institutions to use this report to broaden awareness and improve effective teaching and learning practice.
... Barlex (2017) also suggested a significant and continuing need for professional development and learning, to focus on teachers' specialist knowledge and pedagogy, with a view to modernise the curriculum area's profile and encourage more effective teaching. By engaging students in authentic learning, they are given opportunities for sustained problem solving and decision-making, exposure to a range of theoretical concepts, and collaborative working methods (Lombardi, 2007;Reinsfield, 2018). Whether students are provided with this opportunity, however, is likely to be determined by teachers' perceptions about the nature of technology education, as well as what is valued in their classroom. ...
The Mātanga (Māori term for expert) project aimed to engage teachers with needs-based professional development with a particular focus on the teacher participants’ perspectives of their developing understandings. This article also explores the subsequent impact on teachers’ students as a result of their engagement with professional learning and development (PLD) in New Zealand. The PLD programme, funded by the Ministry of Education’s Network of Expertise Initiative and delivered by Technology Education New Zealand (TENZ), was designed to foster teachers’ engagement with the technology education curriculum. It also aimed to develop teachers’ specialist identity by focusing on notions of technological and technical thinking, by matching teachers with Mātanga experts. Research findings indicate that teacher professional development was significant. Participants developed a deeper understanding of the benefits of authentic technological practice, as well as the technology curriculum. Some participants also obtained a deeper understanding of the nature of responsive pedagogies, and the role of reflection in professional practice. The programme motivated technology teachers, which translated into a more positive learning environment for their students. Feedback was also sought on the Mātanga Project’s professional development model. Participants identified a number of key benefits gained through their participation. Specialist participants gained an appreciation for the theoretical and historical perspectives of technology, while generalist participants valued their increased curriculum knowledge. Participants found the year-long approach beneficial, particularly because they had access to experts in their area of technology. Participants also identified some limitations for the first iteration of the PLD and suggested improvements for the future.
... Although authenticity is a widely used term in the literature, little is in fact known about the meaning and application of the concept in education. The concept sometimes refers to the emulation of real-world practices in school settings, but it can also denote-often interdisciplinaryeducation dealing with complex problem solving that is supposed to stimulate students' creativity and innovativeness (e.g., English, 2023;Herrington & Oliver, 2000;Lombardi & Oblinger, 2007). Thus, authentic learning shares many similarities with, for example, project-based and problem-based learning, but a more specified definition of what is truly authentic, and for whom something is authentic, remains elusive (McComas & Burgin, 2020;Nicaise et al., 2000;Snape & Fox-Turnbull, 2013;Svärd et al., 2022). ...
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Background The literature asserts that science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education needs to be authentic. Although models and modelling provide a basis from which to increase authenticity by bridging the STEM disciplines, the idea of authentic STEM education remains challenging to define. In response, the aim of this study is to identify consensus on significant elements of authentic STEM education through models and modelling. Views were gathered anonymously over three rounds of questions with an expert panel. Responses were subjected to a multimethod analysis that pursued identification, consensus, and stability in the panel’s revealed propositions and themes around authentic STEM education through modelling. Results The panel reached high consensus concerning the potential of STEM education to support learning across traditional subject borders through authentic problem solving. The panel also consented that modelling is indispensable for achieving real-world relevance in STEM education, and that model-based integrated STEM education approaches provide opportunities for authentic problem solving. Furthermore, results showed that integrating individual STEM subjects during teaching, in terms of including disciplinary knowledge and skills, requires specialised competence. Here, technology and engineering subjects tended to implicitly underpin communicated teaching activities aimed at STEM integration. Conclusions and implications The panellists stress that STEM disciplines should be taught collaboratively at the same time as they are not in favour of STEM as a subject of its own but rather as a cooperation that maintains the integrity of each individual subject. Many respondents mentioned integrated STEM projects that included modelling and engineering design, although they were not specifically labelled as engineering projects. Thus, real-world STEM education scenarios are often viewed as being primarily technology and engineering based. The panel responses also implicate a need for multiple definitions of authenticity for different educational levels because a great deal of uncertainty surrounding authenticity seems to originate from the concept implying different meanings for different STEM audiences. These international Delphi findings can potentially inform integrated STEM classroom interventions, teacher education development, educational resource and curriculum design.
Translational medicine (TM) is an interdisciplinary branch of biomedicine that bridges the gap from bench‐to‐bedside to improve global health. Fundamental TM skills include interdisciplinary collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and creative problem‐solving (4Cs). TM is currently limited in undergraduate biomedical education programs, with little patient contact and opportunities for collaboration between different disciplines. In this study, we developed and evaluated a novel interdisciplinary challenge‐based educational concept, grounded in the theoretical framework of experimental research‐based education, to implement TM in undergraduate biomedicine and medicine programs. Students were introduced to an authentic clinical problem through an interdisciplinary session with patients, medical doctors, and scientists. Next, students collaborated in groups to design unique laboratory‐based research proposals addressing this problem. Stakeholders subsequently rewarded the best proposal with funding to be executed in a consecutive interdisciplinary laboratory course, in which mixed teams of biomedicine and medicine students performed the research in a fully equipped wet laboratory. Written questionnaires and focus groups revealed that students developed 4C skills and acquired a 4C mindset. Working on an authentic patient case and the interdisciplinary setting positively contributed to communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creative problem‐solving skills. Furthermore, students were intrinsically motivated by (i) the relevance of their work that made them feel taken seriously and competent, (ii) the patient involvement that highlighted the societal relevance of their work, and (iii) the acquisition of a realistic view of what doing science in a biomedical research laboratory is. In conclusion, we showcase a widely applicable interdisciplinary challenge‐based undergraduate concept fostering TM.
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هدف البحث إلى عرض مضامين نظريات التعليم والتعلم المتنوعة بالنسبة للتصميم التعليمي للتعلم المتنقل في ضوء مراجعة الأدبيات وثيقة الصلة، فضلاً عن الكشف عن أبرز النماذج وأطر العمل النظرية الموجهة للتعلم المتنقل والتي تستند إلى بعض النظريات التي تم تقديمها، وأخيراً تحديد المداخل والأستراتيجيات التعليمية الرئيسية للتعلم المتنقل من منظور نظريات التعليم والتعلم المعاصرة
We assessed the efficacy of two spatial learning programs grounded in early years learning pedagogical theory to improve numeracy performance in preschool. Engagement with a play-based spatial program led to better overall spatial reasoning and transferred to better numeracy compared with a business-as-usual control, underscoring the importance of embedding spatial learning within strong pedagogy and authentic preschool contexts. Engagement with the same spatial program using a spatialized curriculum (e.g., gesture, sketching) showed large additive effects, highlighting the role of spatial reasoning tools to support transfer of spatial reasoning to numeracy. The effects of the two interventions were moderated by spatial reasoning, with children with lower spatial reasoning making the most gains in numeracy.
The concept of authentic learning is functioned for reality simulation in education. Under this approach, the objective is to ensure the learner to find solutions for the real-life problems instead of direct classical learning on a subject. Thus, the learning processes should include authentic activities and assessments. In authentic learning, the students are active participants whereas the teacher assumes the guide model responsibilities. The authentic learning activities may be carried out also in distance learning as well as through formal education. Accordingly, the object of this research is to establish the readiness levels of the faculty members towards authentic learning approach through the distance education process. The sample group of the research consists of the faculty members/associates who give lectures through distance education. The general survey model, as a quantitative research method, has been used in this study. The data collection tool is preferred as the Authentic Learning Readiness Scale for Teachers which has been developed by Horzum, Bektaş, Can, Üngören and Sellüm (2019). The independent samples t-test and one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) have been conducted. The respective findings have established the authentic learning readiness levels of the faculty members; and also shown that such levels had not demonstrated a statistically significant difference according to the gender, age and faculty.
Türkiye'de otantik öğrenmenin öğrenme sürecinde önemli görülen duyuşsal bir faktör olan öğrencilerin derse yönelik tutumları üzerindeki etkisini inceleyen çeşitli birincil çalışmalar gerçekleştirilmiştir. Ancak söz konusu bireysel çalışmaların sonuçlarının, otantik öğrenmenin etkililiğine dair farklı etki büyüklüğü değerleri elde ettiği gözlemlenmiştir. Bu araştırmanın amacı, otantik öğrenmenin öğrencilerin derse yönelik tutumları üzerindeki etkisini inceleyen deneysel ve yarı deneysel çalışmaların sonuçlarını meta-analiz yöntemiyle birleştirerek ederek genel etki büyüklüğünü belirlemektir. Bu amaç doğrultusunda, literatür taraması sonucunda listelenen 180 çalışmadan dâhil edilme kriterlerine uygun olan sekiz çalışma (dokuz etki büyüklüğü) kodlanarak analiz edilmiştir. Meta-analize dâhil edilen birincil çalışmalardan birinin küçük, yedisinin orta ve birinin ise güçlü etki büyüklüğü düzeyinde oldukları belirlenmiştir. Analiz sonuçları otantik öğrenmenin öğrencilerin derse yönelik tutumları üzerinde orta düzeyde bir genel etki büyüklüğüne sahip olduğunu göstermiştir (g=0.751). Meta-analiz sonucunda elde edilen genel etki büyüklüğü değerinin orta düzeyde, eğitim araştırmaları için oldukça dikkate değer ve otantik öğrenmenin geleneksel eğitim süreçlerine kıyasla öğrencilerin derse yönelik olumlu tutumlar geliştirmelerini sağlamada daha etkili olduğunu söylemek mümkündür.
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The major purpose of this book is to present and discuss current thinking, theories, conceptual frameworks, models and promising examples of engaged learning with emerging technologies. Contributions come from distinguished academics in the USA, Canada, the Netherlands, United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, China, Korea and Singapore. Following from a constructivist orientation, coupled with social cultural dimensions of learning, this on the theoretical constructs of the learning sciences and thus the chapters in volume documents how emerging learning technologies are appropriated into meaningful and engaged learning and instructional situations. The field of learning technologies is grounded this book balance between theory and practice and prepositions and solutions.