Designing Education: Course Level

Constructive Alignment is a framework to realise education in which intended learning outcomes (ILOs), teaching and learning activities (TLAs) and assessment (Ass.) are aligned. This implies that when (re)designing courses choices have to be made regarding these three aspects. This page intends to give a short, non-exhaustive overview of different instructional approaches that can be used to facilitate learning and assessment.

ILOs

The first step in the design of constructively aligned teaching and assessment is defining intended learning outcomes (ILOs).

Well formulated ILOs lie at the basis of any learning process and appear in course and educational programme descriptions. Once you are given the task to design ILOs, you will find out that it is very difficult to formulate them. It is much easier to formulate the topics to be studied, but if you have to define the exact level to which the topic is to be studied, and if you need to define exactly what a student should be able to do, if true understanding of the topic is achieved, it becomes complicated.

TLAs

A teaching method is appropriate if it enables students to practice exactly those skills or cognitive processes which they need to achieve the intended learning outcomes. Students will be more motivated as they perceive the activity as meaningful.

Assessment

The assessment method will determine for a large part if and how students engage in teaching and learning activities. Any teacher will probably recognize questions such as “Is this part of the exam?’’

Initially this sounds as a negative element. However, it can be beneficial if used in a constructive aligned manner. Hence, the assessment method (a) stimulates to participate in the teaching and learning activities, and (b) measures to what extent the intended learning outcomes are achieved.

Examples and Best Practices

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