Understanding Alignment

The WSU syllabus template asks instructors to create measurable outcomes/objectives for their classes. This step allows professors to align their course goals to their course activities and assignments. Sometimes, the idea of alignment can be difficult to grasp at first.  A more traditional approach to constructing a college-level course tends to begin with the content, incorporating the learners into the process once it reaches the classroom.  An outcomes-based approach begins with the desired leaning and works toward content, activities, and assessments from there. Curriculum mapping is a tool of outcomes-based education, and it can be used at the college, program, and/or class level.

Shifting to focus from the content to the learning can lead to many changes in a course. Sometimes professors who adopt this approach discover that assignments they have used for years no longer make sense in their class, and there can be feelings of loss that come with that kind of realization. If you are shifting from a content-focused design paradigm to an outcomes based one, you should prepare yourself for experiences like this.

In addition, taking on an outcomes paradigm is time consuming and it can be a tedious process. Aligning the content, course activities, and assessments to specific and measurable outcomes in a course takes time, but this is time well spent. Alignment keeps the focus of your class on student learning, and once you begin to see the rewards of this shift, you will find the process of getting there to be much more bearable.

When professors first learn about alignment, they tend to see the value of certain tools such as Bloom’s Taxonomy and a "Quality" rubric for course design.  These tools will help you understand how to write stronger outcomes and how to align the outcomes within a course.  In addition, OIR suggest that anyone interested in outcomes-based course construction consider creating a Curriculum Map.

Use this Eric article: https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED567005.pdf , this discussion: https://www.gvsu.edu/cms4/asset/EF4BB85F-CE60-13B2-48C316794B210EBA/aligning_matters(2).pdf and this: https://assessment.ucdavis.edu/get-curious/alignment