Authentic learning: a paradigm for increasing student motivation in an era of mass education
Jones, SM and Casper, RM and Dermoudy, J and Osborn, JE and Yates, BF, Authentic learning: a paradigm for increasing student motivation in an era of mass education, Cultures of Learning, 25 November, 2010, University of Tasmania, pp. 52-59. (2010) [Non Refereed Conference Paper]
If universities are to meet federal targets for mass participation in higher education, they
must find new strategies for engaging both prospective and current students. Both prospective and
current students need to see the relevance of their studies to a future career, and to understand how
the knowledge and skills they gain at university will translate into future professional practice.
Authentic learning describes an educational approach that is framed around providing "real life"
contexts for learning. It provides a powerful paradigm within which to shape a new approach to the
design of educational programs. Herrington and Herrington (2006) defined nine characteristics of
authentic learning environments. Using these as a framework, we have designed two checklists that
allow academics to evaluate the degree to which their units or teaching activities align with the
principles of authentic learning. Through a faculty-wide teaching development project, we are
encouraging academics across diverse disciplines to review and refine current practice, with the
aim of increasing student motivation through provision of authentic learning opportunities. The
project itself employs authentic learning strategies to motivate and engage the participating
academics. In this paper, we report on implementation strategies, and present initial evaluation
data. Outcomes of this project will include: an increased awareness of the principles of authentic
learning across a large faculty; introduction of new learning activities; and a resource containing
exemplars of an authentic learning approach to educational design.