Design Element Checklist
According to Harrington, Reeves, Oliver and Woo (2002), learning researchers have distilled the essence of the authentic learning experience down to 10 design elements.
- Provide authentic contexts that reflect the way the knowledge will be used in real life.
- Does the context of the course represent the kind of setting where the skill or knowledge is applied?
- Is the pathway students take through the learning environment flexible, where students are able to move around at will?
- Activities and tasks are ill-defined, requiring students to define the tasks and sub-tasks needed to complete the activity.
- Comprise complex tasks to be investigated by students over a sustained period of time.
- Does the activity and tasks mirror the kind of task performed in real-world applications?
- Is the activity presented as an over-arching complex problem (or series of small sub-steps) that is worked on over a longer period of time?
- Do students work on the activities and tasks for weeks rather than minutes or hours?
- Are students able to choose information from a variety of inputs, including relevant and irrelevant sources?
3. Provide access to expert performances and the modelling of processes.
- Does the learning environment provide access to expert skill and opinion from a variety of sources? (Note: The instructor won’t necessarily provide all those.)
- Does the learning environment allow access to other learners at various stages of expertise? (E.g. Putting students in groups or letting them work with a mentor.)
- Are the students able to hear and share stories about professional practice?
4. Provide multiple roles and perspectives.
- Provide the opportunity for students to examine the tasks from different perspectives, using a variety of resources.
- Are students able to explore issues from different points of view?
- Are students able to use a wide variety of learning resources and materials (not just a single textbook)?
5. Provide the opportunity to collaborate.
- Support collaborative construction of knowledge
- Are students able to collaborate (rather than simply co-operate on tasks)?
- Are grades given for group effort of a whole product, rather than individual effort?
- Promote reflection to enable abstractions to be formed
- Are students required to make decisions about how to complete the task? (reflection-in-action)
- Are students able to move freely in the environment and return to any element to act upon reflection? Non-linear.
- Can students compare their thoughts and ideas to experts, teachers, guides, and to other students?
- Do students work in collaborative groups that enable discussion and social reflection?
7. Promote articulation to encourage students to verbalize their knowledge and thinking.
- Articulation enables tacit knowledge to be made explicit.
- Provide opportunities for students to articulate the knowledge they gained.
- Does the task require students to discuss and articulate beliefs and growing understanding?
- Does the environment provide collaborative groups and forums to enable articulation of ideas?
- Does the task require the creation of a polished product that requires presentation of thought and argument?
- Does the task enable presentation and defense of arguments?
- Provide for authentic assessment of learning within the tasks.
- Are students assessed on the product of the investigation rather than by separate testing?
- Are there multiple assessment measures rather than a single measure?
9. Create polished products.
- Create polished products valuable in their own right rather than as preparation for something else.
- Allow competing solutions and diverse outcomes.
- Are products of performances polished and refined rather than incomplete or rushed drafts?
- Do students participate in the activity for extended periods of time?
- Instructor does not attempt to ‘transmit’ knowledge.
- Instructor’s role is supporting rather than didactic.
- Is the teacher’s role more supportive than didactic?
- Are more knowledgeable students able to assist with coaching (by how the learning environment/context is setup)?
- Is a teacher, guide, or helper available to provide contextualized support?
(Adapted from Reeves, T. C., Herrington, J., & Oliver, R. (2002). Authentic activity as a model for web-based learning. 2002 Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, New Orleans, LA, USA.)