Authentic learning, emerging technologies and graduate attributes: Experiences of South African social work educators.

Paper presented at #husITa14 in Melbourne, Australia, July 2014.


husITa14 Session

Roshini Pillay (University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa)


Internationally, there has been increasing concern by educators regarding developing graduate attributes such as critical scholarship, citizenship and lifelong learning to prepare students as agents of social good dealing with the complexity and uncertainty of the twenty-first century (Barnett, 2004). Conventionally, universities have used constructive alignment (Biggs, 2012) as a means of embedding graduate attributes such as the development of critical and reflective skills into the curriculum.

However, the possibility of applying the nine principles of authentic learning (Herrington, Reeves, & Oliver, 2010) within the social work curriculum to facilitate the development of graduate attributes, has not been fully explored in the higher education or social work (SW) education literature. This paper addresses this gap in the literature by examining how the use of authentic learning principles by social work educators could lead to desired graduate attributes for students.

In investigating  the potential that authentic learning may have for developing graduate attributes SW education, this paper draws on in-depth interviews about authentic learning which were conducted with five  South African SW educators from three differently placed higher education institutions. These interviews were part of a larger national study, which investigated the role that emerging technologies (ET) (Veletsianos, 2011) can play in improving teaching and learning in higher education. The transcripts of the interviews were analysed by the authors to establish whether or not  authentic learning principles identified by Herrington et al. (2010) and ETs have the potential to develop desired graduate attributes in students. The findings revealed not all nine elements of authentic learning and ET existed in the case studies.



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