Constructive Alignment

Constructive Alignment means planning a course so that the learning outcomes, assessment and learning activities work together.

The term "Constructive Alignment" was put forth by Biggs and Tang inTeaching for quality learning at university (2011). In order for students to achieve the learning outcomes of a course, these defined outcomes must also be present in the final assessments, as well as the during the course activities. In this way, the learning outcomes, assessments and learning activities are aligned.

According to Biggs and Tang, this way of planning a course is a way to change the focus from what the lecturer should teach, to what the students should learn. It will also make it easier for the students in a course to spend their time on activities that support understanding and learning, because a lot of students are focused on what will be part of their examination.

The course responsible will start by formulating the learning outcomes of the course. Then the assessment can be planned. For Biggs and Tang, the question is whether the chosen form of assessment actually measures the defined learning outcomes of the course. How can an attitude objective be measured? And if one outcome or objective is more important than others, will it also take up a larger part of the examination or assessments? Finally, the course responsible must arrange learning activities that will enable the students to reach the learning outcomes. All outcomes and objectives must be considered, and planned in terms of what the students can learn by themselves (self-study or in groups, exercises) and what should be addressed in shared time (lectures etc). These considerations must be communicated clearly to the students. Discuss the learning outcomes, how they are expected to work with the course to reach them, and what this will do towards preparing the students for their final examinations.


Biggs, J. B., & Tang, C. S. K. (2011). Teaching for quality learning at university. The Society for Research into Higher Education. 4th edition.

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