Faculty as Designers of Authentic Learning Projects in Online Courses


  • Victoria Abramenka-Lachheb Indiana University Bloomington
  • Gamze Ozogul Indiana University Bloomington




Online courses, competency-based education, authentic learning, public health


This study investigated similarities and differences in faculty’s interpretation of authentic learning and how their interpretations were manifested into their design and implementation practices in competency-based, fully online courses. From a theoretical perspective, designing for authentic learning calls for a holistic approach, which considers various aspects, such as real-world relevance, personal meaningfulness, authentic assessment, disciplinary authenticity, and teacher authenticity. In terms of similarities across participants in this study, most faculty interpreted authentic learning as including “real-world” characteristics -- that is, authentic learning is a type of learning that is situated in real-world contexts and is relevant to learners’ future careers. In terms of differences, only a few participants emphasized that authentic learning requires removing the dichotomy of a hierarchical classroom environment based on the principles of co-learning. The findings of this study also highlighted examples of authentic learning and challenges associated with implementing authentic learning in competency-based online courses. The study further provides implications for future research and practice.

Author Biographies

Victoria Abramenka-Lachheb, Indiana University Bloomington

Victoria Abramenka-Lachheb is a Ph.D. candidate in Instructional Systems Technology and an instructional designer at Indiana University Bloomington. Her research interests focus on online learning instructional design with a special focus on the design practices of authentic and interactive learning experiences in online courses.

Gamze Ozogul, Indiana University Bloomington

Gamze Ozogul is an Associate Professor of Instructional Systems Technology. Her research focuses instructional design, research methods, multimedia design, feedback, problem solving, and teacher education.


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