John Bigg’s Constructive Alignment


Constructive alignment is an example of outcomes-based education (OBE).

In constructive alignment, we start with the outcomes we intend students to learn, and align teaching and assessment to those outcomes (…) learning is constructed by what activities the students carry out; learning is about what they do, not about what we teachers do.

  • SOLO 1: pre-structural level_the student has no understanding, uses irrelevant info, misses the point all together
  • SOLO 2: uni-structural level_the student understands one relevant aspect only, the student is able to identity, to do a procedure, and/or to recite
  • SOLO 3: multi-structural level_the student can focus on several relevant aspects, is able to classify, combine, enumerate
  • SOLO 4: relational level_the student can link and integrate several parts into a coherent whole, details are linked to conclusion, and the meaning is understood, the student has the ability to relate, to compare, to analyze
  • SOLO 5: extended abstract_ the student has the capacity to generalize this structure beyond the information given and even produce new hypotheses or theories which may then be scrutinized

Defining learning goals as clearly and concisely as possible is an essential step in setting down the outcome of a teaching session. To encourage students to apply “deep learning” techniques for competency acquisition, examinations in particular, not just course content, must be designed in accordance with constructive alignment standards; this is the only way to ensure that students will acquire the requisite target competencies. Thus, courses and course units should be designed as follows: (1) define learning outcomes, (2) decide on examination formats, and (3) bring the structure and sequence of course content into alignment with the examination tasks. This process is not strictly linear, however: If experience shows that certain competencies cannot be tested or evaluated, for example, your learning goals may have to be readjusted accordingly.



John Biggs, Constructive Alignment, available here

John Biggs, Teaching Teaching & Understanding Understanding (2/3), duration from min 3:16 to min 5:28, available here

& Image available here

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