Biggs (2003) has been influential in his work in the area of what he calls ‘constructive alignment.’ The basic premise of constructive alignment is that the curriculum is designed so that the learning activities and assessment tasks are aligned in order to support students to attain the goals intended for the course. This concept considers students to be responsible for their own learning. If students construct their own learning, then it makes sense that the real learning can only be managed by them. In light of this view, education literature (e.g. King,1993) prefers educators to think of themselves more as guides on the side, not sages on the stage.
This role leaves educators in charge of coordinating the activities required to facilitate the learning experience and adopting the necessary supportive learning strategies. In this sense, educators are responsible for setting clear goals, and more importantly, expectations. If students are provided with this alignment between the objectives and the learning outcomes, they will be more intrinsically motivated, and as a result, their performance will be enhanced and their perception of educator effectiveness will improve as well.(McKone, 1999).
What about you? Have you considered this alignment between your goals and students expectations in your lesson plan? If so, good job! If not, go for it. Students expectations and a positive learning perception are vital for our success as educators. It’s not enough setting clear goals if they don’t meet students expectations.
One strategy teachers can use is accounting for the students’ perception of learning at the end of each class by using the picture below. Teachers can make stick figures with the names of the students on it and they will go to the board to put their stick figure on the stair step they think they achieved that class. The teachers then has the chance to praise, question and elicit more information about the feedback they are giving. Think about it!