Authentic learning

Authentic learning is a pedagogical model based on situated learning theories, which are founded on a constructivist philosophy of learning . It is a process involving the dynamic interactions between the learner, the task and the environment. Authentic tasks that encourage and support student engagement and immersion in a cognitive real environment can facilitate self-directed and independent learning (Herrington, 2006), encourage confidence, and cultivate “portable skills” such as judgement, patience, synthetic ability and flexibility that most learners have difficulty in grasping (Lombardi, 2007).

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Authentic learning and authentic tasks
Professor Herrington is one of the leading researchers on authentic learning. Information about her model of authentic learning and elements of authentic tasks can be found on her Authentic Learning website.

In this video (3 mins) Herrington describes how her authentic learning model provides the opportunity for students to complete realistic tasks in academic settings.



Herrington has produced a series of short videos to describe the 9 principles of authentic learning. You can access these videos from her Authentic Learning website or her JanH119’s Youtube Channel.

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The Authentic Task Design website describes 10 elements that can be used as a framework for designing authentic tasks.



The Authentic Assessment Toolbox provides information and resources for assessing authentic learning projects.

Authentic learning resources


Recommended readings