A lecturer and student holding drones have a discussion in a teaching room

ILOs and constructive alignment

At the heart of curriculum design are three key processes: 
  • establishing appropriate intended learning outcomes; 
  • designing appropriate learning and teaching activities that enable learners to meet those outcomes;
  • designing appropriate assessment methods through which learners can demonstrate that they have met the outcomes.
When these three elements are appropriate and relevant to each other, we have achieved what we call constructive alignment. This alignment between learning and teaching activities, intended learning outcomes and assessment methods is illustrated in the diagram below. 

Constructive alignment diagram

This strategy for planning teaching is very popular, particularly as it makes it easier for courses to comply with QAA regulations which tend to take a Learning Outcomes approach to ensuring consistency and quality.
Perhaps more importantly, a well-aligned piece of teaching is also more likely to result in a good positive learning experience for students. They will have a clearer understanding of what the assessment will involve, and how the learning activities are relevant to it. This approach also makes managing and delivering the learning easier for the teacher.
In the next section, we will look at principles and best practices for designing effective ILOs.