Applying authentic learning to Social Science: A learning design for an inter-disciplinary Sociology subject

Fiona Borthwick, Gerry Lefoe, Sue Bennett, Elaine Huber


As universities move towards more vocationally oriented courses, students expect pedagogic practices that make closer ties to potential workplaces. The pedagogical approach of authentic learning is well suited to this purpose as it proposes an apprenticeship-type model and a model that brings simulated work tasks into the classroom. In the social sciences, authentic learning is under-utilised and under theorised as these subject areas do not fit easily into these models. An alternative model of authentic learning aims to offer students opportunities to ?enmind? the requirements of a discipline, be critically reflective about that discipline, and to develop the skills to bring the discipline into their subjective experience. Using this model for authentic learning as a starting point, the authors have examined the applicability of authentic learning to the social sciences, derived relevant design principles and applied these to produce a learning design for a sociology subject that can be tested and critiqued. The purpose of this paper is to present this learning design as a starting point for discussion about a new form of authentic learning.


authentic learning, learning design, social sciences

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