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In Chapter 3 of Learner-Centered Teaching Terry Doyle considers Authentic Learning.

Authentic learning is a pedagogical approach that allows students to explore, discuss, and meaningfully construct concepts and relationships in contexts that involve real-world problems and projects that are relevant to the learner (Donovan, Bransford, & Pellegrino, 1999)

Authentic instruction will take on a much different form than traditional methods of teaching. The literature suggests that authentic learning has several key characteristics.

  • Learning is centered on authentic tasks that are of interest to the learners.
  • Students are engaged in exploration and inquiry.
  • Learning, most often, is interdisciplinary.
  • Learning is closely connected to the world beyond the walls of the
  • classroom.
  • Students become engaged in complex tasks and higher-order thinking
  • skills, such as analyzing, synthesizing, designing, manipulating and
  • evaluating information.
  • Students produce a product that can be shared with an audience outside
  • the classroom.
  • Learning is student driven with teachers, parents, and outside experts all
  • assisting/coaching in the learning process.
  • Learners employ scaffolding techniques.
  • Students have opportunities for social discourse.


from http://emp.byui.edu/FIRESTONEL/bio405/readings/Inquiry/authentic_learning-meridian.pdf

The Educause White Paper Authentic Learning for the 21st Century: An Overview by Marilyn Lombardi has some great information too. The Abstract below may entice you to dive in.

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.

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