Authentic Course Principles


  1. Authentic Task

    1. Does the task mirror the kind of task performed in real world applications?
    2. Is the task presented as an overarching complex problem or as a series of small sub-steps?
    3. Do students work on the task for weeks rather than minutes or hours?
    4. Are students able to choose information from a variety of inputs, including relevant and irrelevant sources?
    5. Are tasks and strategies relevant to other disciplines and broader knowledge?
  2. Authentic Assessment

    1. Are products or performances polished and refined rather than incomplete or rushed drafts?
    2. Do students participate in the activity for extended periods of time?
    3. Are students assessed on the product of the investigation, rather than by separate testing?
    4. Are there multiple assessment measures rather than a single measure?
  3. Authentic Context

    1. Does the context of the course represent the kind of setting where the skill or knowledge is applied?
    2. Is the pathway students take through the learning environment flexible, where students are able to move around at will?
  4. Multiple Roles and Perspectives

    1. Are students able to explore issues from different points of view?
    2. Are students able to use the learning resources and materials for multiple purposes?
  5. Collaborative Construction of Knowledge

    1. Are students able to collaborate rather than simply cooperate on tasks?
    2. Are grades given for group effort rather than individual effort?
  6. Promotes Reflection

    1. Are students required to make decisions about how to complete the task?
    2. Are students able to move freely in the environment and return to any element to act upon reflection?
    3. Can students compare their thoughts and ideas to experts, teachers, guides, and to other students?
    4. Do students work in collaborative groups that enable discussion and social reflection?
  7. Promotes Articulation

    1. Does the task require students to discuss and articulate beliefs and growing understanding?
    2. Does the task enable presentation and defense of arguments?
  8. Access to Expert Thinking and Modeling of Processes

    1. Does the learning environment provide access to expert skill and opinion?
    2. Does the learning environment allow access to other learners at various stages of expertise?
    3. Are students able to hear and share stories about professional practice?
  9. Coaching and Scaffolding

    1. Are more knowledgeable students able to assist with coaching?
    2. Is a teacher, guide or helper available to provide contextualized support?



Herrington, J. (2006). Authentic e-learning in higher education: Design principles for authentic learning environments and tasks.

Herrington, J., Reeves, T. C., & Oliver, R. (2010). A practical guide to authentic e-learning. Routledge.