The framework of constructive alignment (Biggs, 1996) focuses on three key elements of curriculum design:
- Intended learning outcomes - what should the students know or be able to do?
- Teaching and learning activities - how will the students learn?
- Assessment - how will learning be measured?
The three minute video below outlines the arguments that underpin this framework.
As discussed in the video, from the students’ perspective a constructively aligned course or programme ensures that they have every opportunity to learn effectively and achieve the ILOs successfully.
Biggs (2003) has also discussed how constructive alignment addresses the possibility of students adopting a ‘strategic’ approach to learning i.e. students learning what they think they will be tested on.
In a poorly aligned system, where the assessment does not reflect the ILOs, this may result in inappropriate surface learning. On the other hand if students attempt to adopt a strategic approach in an aligned system where the assessment requirements mirror the ILOs, there is no problem. Students will be learning what they are supposed to be learning.
Bloom’s (1956) taxonomy of educational objectives
To be effective ILOs should be:
- Active – they describe what students can do
- Attractive – students want to achieve them
- Comprehensible – students know what they means
- Appropriate – to the student’s current goals and career plans
- Attainable – most students will mostly meet them, with due effort
- Assessable – we can see if they have been achieved
- Visible – in the course guides, on the relevant Moodle sites and reiterated during lectures/seminars.
Each academic department at the LSE has its own dedicated Eden Centre departmental advisers, who have a wide range of expertise and are available to work with colleagues on any teaching or learning related matter.
- Biggs, J (1996) ‘Enhancing teaching through constructive alignment’, Higher Education, Vol. 32, No. 3, pp. 347-364
- Bloom, B.S. (Ed.). Engelhart, M.D., Furst, E.J., Hill, W.H., Krathwohl, D.R. (1956). Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, Handbook I: The Cognitive Domain. New York: David McKay Co Inc.