Centre for Teaching and Learning
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Constructive Alignment: Design for Learning


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Learning is described as an active, cumulative process of knowledge building. Facilitation of meaningful learning therefore implies the creation of learning opportunities that will support the building of knowledge. Engaging students actively in their own learning process is an important pre-requisite for such knowledge building. 

Dale's cone of learning or retention gives a concise summary of how much we remember based on our level of engagement. The level of engagement created by the learning opportunities is linked to the stated outcomes. Outcomes on the level of knowledge and understanding might lead to low levels of recall based on limited engagement while outcomes on the higher cognitive levels might lead to more active teaching and learning engagement which could lead to higher levels of recall.


Dale's cone.jpg 

Source:  http://creativa.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Blog-62-edgar-dales-cone.gif

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Student engagement is essential for meaningful learning. Engagement can happen through the implementation of various strategies e.g. active learning, cooperative learning, collaborative learning, service learning, problem-based learning, group work or group projects, research (inquiry) based learning.

The article (see below) entitled Pedagogies of engagement: classroom-based practices by Smith, Sheppard, Johnson and Johnson (2005) gives more background and information.  Various methods or techniques can also be implemented to elicit interaction.


Pedagogies of engagement

In their ground breaking paper on Pedagogies of Engagement, Smith et al (2007) states that: "Educators, researchers, and policy makers have advocated student involvement for some time as an essential aspect of meaningful learning." They speak about the work done in Engineering, where several means of improving student engagement in undergraduate courses, "including active and cooperative learning, learning communities, service learning, cooperative education, inquiry and problem-based learning, and team projects" have been used. The paper "focuses on classroom-based pedagogies of engagement, particularly cooperative and problem-based learning. [It] includes a brief history, theoretical roots, research support, summary of practices, and suggestions for redesigning engineering classes and programs to include more student engagement. It also lays out the research ahead for advancing pedagogies aimed at more fully enhancing students' involvement in their learning", and is a worthwhile read on the topic.

Article.jpg Pedagogies-of-engagement.pdf


Types of interaction

Through extensive research, Chickering and Gamson (1987)  identified seven principles that can improve undergraduate education.

Article.jpg7 principles.pdf

Based on their research, good practice in undergraduate education:
(1) encourages contact between students and faculty;
(2) develops reciprocity and cooperation among students;
(3) uses active learning techniques;
(4) gives prompt feedback;
(5) emphasizes time on task;
(6) communicates high expectations; and
(7) respects diverse talents and ways of learning.

Linking the types of interaction according to Chickering and Gamson (1987) with some teaching and learning activities might look as follows:

Student-faculty:  Lecture
Student-student:  Peer assessment, discussion, group work
Student–content:  Self-study, self-assessment, podcast

Below are examples of learning opportunities and assessment methods that might be useful when designing a module: 

(You can also visit the Centre for Learning Technologies website for additional assistance and ideas!)

Learning Opportunities
  • Watch a video
  • Do a play
  • Draw a filmstrio
  • make a poster
  • Make a presentation
  • Look at each other's notes
  • Complete a questionnaire
  • Write an abstract / conclusion
  • Jigsaw
  • Peer assessment
  • Formulate questions for the test
  • Interview somebody
  • Complete an e-portfolio
  • Find information on the internet
  • Service learning
  • Site visit
  • Read something
  • Find an article in a newspaper/magazine
  • Discuss with colleagues
  • Write something in their own words
  • Make a summary
  • Give and example
  • Debate
  • Group discussion
  • Self assessment
  • Do an assignment
  • Write a test
  • Write a blog
  • Comment on a piece of work
  • Draw up a memo
  • Build a model
  • Online discussion


Assessment Methods
  • Clickers (after discussing idea, show results on board)
  • Oral exams
  • Portfolio's
  • Self-study on topic (answer questions)
  • Proposal writing (for own practicals)
  • Problem-based case studies
  • On-line questionnaire (e.g. on SunLearn)
  • Blogs
  • Students setting own tests that counts
  • Peer-evaluation (of written essays)
  • Projects / project presentations
  • Run the practical
  • Group test (write test in groups of two)
  • Group work (students give each other marks)
  • Buddy-rating system
  • Wiki
  • Give students rubric, they assess own work, then lecturer

Learning opportunities



Lecture:  The lecture is still the most utilised method for teaching and learning at SU. If a conventional lecture is presented the question is how to make it more effective. The flipped classroom technique can perhaps be used.  Links to resources on other ideas and suggestions can be found below:


Web resources.jpgConventional (lecture)

Web resources.jpgActive learning

Article.jpgActive_Learning_in_College_Classrooms.pdf  Reading-for-Active-learning.pdf


Web resources.jpgInteractivity

Web resources.jpgCooperative learning

Article.jpgConcentration:  Learner centered teaching.pdf

Web resources.jpgClickers

Web resources.jpgDale's cone



Web resources.jpgJust in time teaching

Web resources.jpgConcept tests

Web resources.jpgPeer instruction