A critical reflection on constructive alignment in theory and practice
This essay provides a critical reflection on constructive alignmnet (CA) in higher education. In CA, teaching and learning activities are aligned with intended learning outcomes that need to be adequately assessed. The essay focuses on the work by educational psychologist John B. Biggs, who together with Kevin Collis, developed the SOLO taxonomy for the qualitative assessment of learning outcomes. It describes Biggs’ notion of teaching as forming a complex whole - a system - where the different components of teaching and learning interact with each other and strive towards a stable equilibrium. The essay relates Biggs’ work to early influential predecessors, discusses the assessment process, and how CA predominantly is skewed to reinforce cognitive learning on behalf of the affective domain in Bloom’s Taxonomy. It concludes by questioning to what extent CA can be used to align more complex, interdisciplinary based university programs, such as Sustainability Science and Natural Resource Management.