From criminology to gerontology: case studies of experiential authenticity in higher education


  • Suzanne Young University of Leeds
  • Ellen Tullo, Dr Newcastle University



authentic learning; experiential learning; communities of practice; diversity; ageing; prisons


This article discusses two examples of higher education teaching interventions with evidence of high levels of student engagement resulting from experiential authenticity – the Prison: Learning Together module and an intergenerational module about ageing (NUAGE). The article outlines the aims and objectives of the two programmes and discusses the core findings from the module evaluations. The findings demonstrate that creating communities of practice using experiential authenticity enhances the learning journey for students, resulting in greater participation. Experiential authenticity has been identified as distinct from other forms of experiential learning with common features thought to result in sustained student engagement included collaboration with peers, an authentic experience of working with learners from outside the university, and reciprocal respect between members of diverse groups. We make suggestions as to how these engagement themes could be applied to other higher education settings whilst acknowledging the challenges involved.

Author Biography

Ellen Tullo, Dr, Newcastle University

Dr Ellen Tullo is a lecturer in Ageing Education at Newcastle University and a practicing geriatrician.


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Case Studies