Authentic Learning Design Failures: The Need for Learner and Contextual Analysis and Participatory Design

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Mohan Yang
Jon Harbor


This design case examines what program leaders learned from failures in the design of a program of authentic learning about teaching diverse audiences through educational outreach. The program was initiated and then redesigned to develop the teaching and communication skills of graduate students from a wide range of backgrounds by engaging them in authentic experiences with middle school teachers and students. Analysis of post-program data revealed seven design failures related to the lack of upfront analysis to inform the program design. Each design failure was detailed through a fishbone diagram method to identify the corre- sponding contributing factors. The failures in this design case reinforce the need for upfront learner analysis and contextual analysis. A participatory design was also suggested from the post-program data analysis. An instructional design model was recommended for continuous program redesign.


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How to Cite
Yang, M., & Harbor, J. (2023). Authentic Learning Design Failures: The Need for Learner and Contextual Analysis and Participatory Design. International Journal of Designs for Learning, 14(1), 88–105.
Design Failure in Learning Design
Author Biographies

Mohan Yang, Old Dominion University

Mohan Yang is an assistant professor of STEM Education and Professional Studies at Old Dominion University. His research interests are transfer of training, organizational training and performance, authentic learning, online learning, and digital transformation

Jon Harbor

Jon Harbor is a Provost at Purdue University Global and an Emeritus Professor of Environmental Geosciences at Purdue University. His research interests include assessing outcomes in a program engaging graduate students and middle school teacher mentors in developing and teaching middle school activities based on the graduate student’s research.