Project Description

Constructive Alignment

Learning Outcomes

Purpose

Clarify the importance of aligning learning outcomes to activities and assessments. Provide strategies to guide this process.

Learning Context

We cannot assume that when we have taught something to students they have learned it, and yet, this is the outcome we expect. Often, curriculum design begins at the content (subject matter) of a program or course with learning outcomes as an afterthought.  In addition, assessments and learning activities are focussed on the content rather than the learning outcomes.

Constructive alignment is a process that begins at the learning outcomes, aligning these to the assessments, learning activities and finally the content/subject matter. Biggs (1999) explained constructive alignment as ‘aligning curriculum objectives, teaching/learning activities (TLAs), and assessment tasks’ (p.65).

In higher education, learning outcomes are allocated at two levels: the whole program level and the individual course level. Also, all programs at RMIT need to demonstrate generic graduate attributes identified by the university (RMIT University n.d.). Therefore, program learning outcomes (PLOs) and subsequently, course learning outcomes (CLOs) must include skills relevant to the graduate attributes. Figure 1 depicts the relationship between PLOs and graduate attributes and shows the order in which constructive alignment occurs at both the program and course levels.

Program and Course Alignment

Figure 1: Program and Course Alignment  (Adapted from Rundle & Gurney 2017)

Program Level Constructive Alignment

The following steps describe the Program Level Template found in Appendix A.

(RMIT University n.d.).

Course Level Constructive Alignment

The following steps describe the Program Level Template found in Appendix B.

References

  • Anderson, L. W., & Krathwohl, D. R. 2001, A taxonomy for learning, teaching, and assessing, Abridged Edition, Allyn and Bacon, Boston, MA
  • Biggs, J 1999, ‘What the student does: teaching for enhance learning’, Higher education research & development, vol. 18, no. 1, pp. 57-75
  • Kinash, S & Knight, D 2013, Assessment at Bond. Gold Coast, QLD: Office of Learning and Teaching, Bond University
  • Office for Learning and Teaching n.d, Assuring learning, Australian Government, viewed 7 August 2018, Link
  • RMIT University n.d., Learning and Teaching, Graduate Attributes, viewed 7 August 2018,  Link
  • Rundle N & Gurney B 2017, Constructive alignment diagram, digital image, University of Tasmania, viewed 8 August 2018, Link CC BY-SA