Constructive Alignment


One of the key concepts we need to bear in mind when we think about any use of intended learning outcomes, in the context of course design, is constructive alignment.

Constructive alignment is a fairly simple, but really foundational concept. Essentially, it starts with, establishing what the outcomes are going to be within your particular course, then deciding how you are going to assess that (what kind of evidence you would expect the students to generate to be able to demonstrate that they can meet those outcomes), and then, and only then, do you look at the learning and teaching activities that would enable students to essentially rehearse that performance towards the outcomes that you are aiming for them to be able to evidence.

Now it’s a fairly simple concept, but it’s really quite important because it means that everything that you do subsequently, in terms of the way you design your learning and teaching, always links back to ultimately your outcomes. It means you are not worrying about what it is you’re going to teach the students, as much as the purpose of what you are teaching.

Now I’ve added a fourth element to this particular concept, which is that of feedback, but the original three pillars of constructive alignment, outcomes, assessment, and learning and teaching, which was originated by John Biggs are absolutely foundational.

It’s an important concept to grasp.

Handout: Constructive Alignment

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