Staff development

How to support staff in processes of Constructive Alignment?

Team-based workshops

Working on introducing or reinforcing of CoAl in your educational programme is also an invaluable opportunity to (re-)train your teachers, and assure continuous staff development. Concretely, a CoAl project requires knowledge about:

  • Formulation of tangible learning outcomes
  • Didactic approaches and monitoring their effectiveness
  • Assessment methods and mix of grading formats
  • Syllabus design
  • Curriculum design
  • Re-accreditation



All these topics can be subject to in-house or external training courses (for example the University Teaching Qualification (UTQ) trajectory). However, they can also be weaved-in implicitly or explicitly during the CoAl trajectory. Depending on the needs and the vision of the programme coordinator and the Faculty Board, a (short) training on each of these subjects can be intertwined within the trajectory of curriculum (re-)design. When the staff members are anyway in the process of revision of their courses, they do not mind and are more prone to receiving instructions or being guided by an educational expert. This means that the CoAl project can be an excellent training infrastructure, where the staff members can apply the learned tips and can immediately observe the added value of their effort invested in the course re-design.

Staff development example: FASoS

Below, an example from FASoS is sketched that combined a curriculum re-design of an MA programme (which was also simultaneously preparing for re-accreditation) with staff development and training sessions in four of the aspects listed above, namely: formulation of tangible learning outcomes, choice of adequate assessment methods, syllabus design, re-accreditation. The same example was already outlined above (correct section to be added). in terms of the steps in the curriculum re-design process. This is why in the example presented in the section below only the staff training will be discussed.

Combining the introduction of CoAl in a MA programme with staff development: a FASOS testimonial

The preparation for a re-accreditation is a unique opportunity to update and reform an educational programme. To accomplish such a change, however, and especially to assure its sustainability, it is necessary to have well-prepared staff, who are competent and motivated to maintain the introduced changes. In this context, (re-)training focussing on the necessity of CoAl is often essential and very desirable. This was the case with the MA ‘Globalization and Development Studies’ at FASoS. The programme was preparing for a re-accreditation and this preparatory trajectory was used to introduce the CoAl principles in the Education Plan, but also to re-train the team of teachers behind the programme.

The main focus of the training was the formulation of tangible ILOs at course level, whereby the staff was also refreshed on the most common taxonomies of LOs and the underlying rationale. The second goal of the training was to teach the staff members to explicate the rationale behind the chosen assessment methods in their course, and to teach them to critically choose assessment formats, and justify the grading process they perform.

The training was structured in 3 sessions of which no. 1 and no. 3 were group sessions – workshops, while no. 2 was individually scheduled meeting related to feedback and discussion of the concrete course-book of the trained coordinator. Under this structure the staff were able to oversee their position within the programme (in sessions 1 and 3), but also to reform their individual courses and receive direct feedback from the educational expert.The training had the following structure:

  1. Workshop I: Raising awareness and setting norms;
  2. Homework assignment;
  3. Individual meeting between trainer and course coordinators;
  4. Workshop II: Wrapping up and decisions at programme level.

Read more about each training element in the following tabs.


Workshop I: Raising the awareness and setting the norms

  1. Trainer introduces the concept of constructive alignment (CoAl), explains its function, and provides examples and good practices.
  2. Trainer presents the requirements toward a well-formulated ILO, and the taxonomy of Bloom. Everyone discusses where the ILOs of his/her course score according to the taxonomy, and also which final qualification does it correspond to. Trainer provides comments, the Programme Directors finalises the decision which competence is trained where in the programme.
  3. Trainer explains how the definition of the ILO (and in particular the level at which the educational attainment defined) conditions the choice of assessment format.

Homework assignment

Every course coordinator should think through his/her course and draft a plan about how the programme FQs are reflected in the course-level ILOs. Furthermore, all ILOs have to be revised using the list of active verbs. In addition, every coordinator proposes a revision of the current didactic approaches and assessment methods for his/her course.


Individual meetings between trainer and course coordinators

The trainer discusses the homework of every course coordinator and provides feedback. An action plan is formulated how to revise the coursebooks based on the revised in the homework ILOs. Opportunity to address case specific questions and tailored advice.

Workshop II: Wrapping up and decisions at programme level

  1. Trainer discusses global lessons (of relevance for all) from the homework assignment and the individual meetings.
  2. Trainer maps out the proposed by the course coordinators didactic approaches. The group discusses how they match or not with each other. Is the didactic programme convincing and forming a coherent curriculum given the final qualifications? Input from all coordinators. Final decision.
  3. Trainer maps out the proposed assessment methods. The group discusses how they match or not with each other. Is the assessment programme convincing and forming a coherent whole with the curriculum of educational activities and the final qualifications? The group discusses and makes final adjustments.