Authentic Assignments

What is an authentic assignment?

An authentic assignment provides students with real-world relevance, allowing them to engage in meaningful learning experiences that reflect tasks they might encounter outside the classroom. Authentic assignments connect academic content to practical, real-life situations, promoting greater understanding and engagement.

How do authentic assignments benefit students?

Not seeing the relevance or importance of a class activity can create barriers for learners. However, when learners are personally invested in an activity, they tend to work harder and retain more information, which improves their knowledge and results on assignments.

Additionally, by inviting personal responses and feedback through self-reflection, students can take ownership of their work, leading to improved work quality. Keeping learners’ interests and goals in mind while creating class activities can improve learners’ success on the specific assignment, in the course, and throughout their entire academic journey.

How do instructors provide authentic assignments to students?

One of the most important goals for instructors is to create coursework that is culturally and socially inclusive, interesting, and authentic to learners’ varied interests. Challenging learners to engage with the material on a more personal level can improve academic results, specifically to the course and holistically to their academic career.

Instructors can foster authentic learning experiences by:

  • Highlighting the utility and importance of assignments
  • Including learner response and self-reflection in activities
  • Offering varied methods of completing assignments
  • Varying the scope and purpose of each activity and assignment

How do authentic assignments relate to Universal Design for Learning (UDL)?

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a framework for reducing barriers, increasing engagement, and promoting inclusive and accessible learning. Authentic assignments align with UDL Checkpoint 7.2 by providing activities relevant to the course material that are also interesting, varied, and valuable to learners’ interests — boosting engagement and educational retention.

Goodwin University Institute for Learning Innovation (GUILI) is at the forefront of accessibility in higher education — promoting UDL not only at Goodwin but at colleges and universities worldwide. Learn more about beginning your Goodwin journey today!

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