Topic Progress:

Recall from the ‘think‘ course that it is critical for learner assessment to be aligned with the intended outcomes identified in the course. Feel free to re-watch the video to refresh your memory. We will now revisit this idea in the context of designing learning experiences for online communities of inquiry.

Constructive alignment1 is a term Biggs and Tang use to refer to the fact that the idea is rooted in constructivist pedagogies where learners construct knowledge through learning activities and reflection on their own existing schemata. Further, assessment tasks must be aligned to what is intended to be learned.

They outline four stages in designing aligned assessments:

  1. Describe the intended learning outcome in the form of a verb (learning activity), its object (the content), and specify the context and a standard students are to attain.
  2. Create a learning environment using teaching/learning activities that address that verb and therefore are likely to bring about the intended outcome.
  3. Use assessment tasks that also contain that verb, thus enabling you to judge with the help of rubrics if and how well students’ performances meet the criteria.
  4. Transform these judgements into standard grading criteria.

This is admittedly an oversimplification at 30,000 feet, of a complex process.


  1. Biggs, J., & Tang, C. (2011). Teaching for quality learning at university: What the student does (4th ed.). New York: Society for Research into Higher Education & Open University Press.