Authentic Learning at the University of Bristol

How to use this map

This map shows all of the open units that include elements of authentic learning. This could be in their teaching practices, integrating assessment, or having students collaborate to produce a polished product. This map will show you where you can find these units, who can take them and how they will contribute to building student skills.

What’s not on this map

Any units that are not open to all students are not included, neither are independent research projects such as dissertations. If you would like to find more examples of students as researchers check out the BILT Blog.

What is authentic learning and why it is crucial for learning and teaching?

Authentic learning is designed to teach and highlight a wide variety of soft skills that are useful outside of acidaemia. Furthermore, units that allow you to highlight the real-world relevance and by reflecting on the processes of how you learn and what you have achieved it can help students to understand and communicate the value of their time at university.

This map uses Lombardi’s 10 key tenants of authentic learning to identify elements of authenticity within units.

  1. Real-world relevance: Authentic activities match the real-world tasks of professionals in practice as nearly as possible. Learning rises to the level of authenticity when it asks students to work actively with abstract concepts, facts, and formulae inside a realistic— and highly social—context mimicking “the ordinary practices of the [disciplinary] culture.”
  2. Ill-defined problem: Challenges cannot be solved easily by the application of an existing algorithm; instead, authentic activities are relatively undefined and open to multiple interpretations, requiring students to identify for themselves the tasks and subtasks needed to complete the major task.
  3. Sustained investigation: Problems cannot be solved in a matter of minutes or even hours. Instead, authentic activities comprise complex tasks to be investigated by students over a sustained period of time, requiring significant investment of time and intellectual resources.
  4. Multiple sources and perspectives: Learners are not given a list of resources. Authentic activities provide the opportunity for students to examine the task from a variety of theoretical and practical perspectives, using a variety of resources, and requires students to distinguish relevant from irrelevant information in the process.
  5. Collaboration: Success is not achievable by an individual learner working alone. Authentic activities make collaboration integral to the task, both within the course and in the real world.
  6. Reflection (metacognition): Authentic activities enable learners to make choices and reflect on their learning, both individually and as a team or community.
  7. Interdisciplinary perspective: Relevance is not confined to a single domain or subject matter specialization. Instead, authentic activities have consequences that extend beyond a particular discipline, encouraging students to adopt diverse roles and think in interdisciplinary terms.
  8. Integrated assessment: Assessment is not merely summative in authentic activities but is woven seamlessly into the major task in a manner that reflects real-world evaluation processes.
  9. Polished products: Conclusions are not merely exercises or substeps in preparation for something else. Authentic activities culminate in the creation of a whole product, valuable in its own right.
  10. Multiple interpretations and outcomes: Rather than yielding a single correct answer obtained by the application of rules and procedures, authentic activities allow for diverse interpretations and competing solutions.”