Skip main navigation

A good course design

A good course design
The design of the course consists of three main building blocks. The intended learning outcomes, the teaching and learning activities, and the assessment and feedback tasks. In a well-designed course, those building blocks should all be aligned with each other. They support each other and are geared towards each other. Biggs and Tang call this way of setting up a course constructive alignment. In a constructively aligned course, the building block intended learning outcomes is the central component. All the building blocks support each other so the learner is enveloped within a supportive learning system.
The intended learning outcomes are defined by Biggs and Tang as statements written from the students’ perspective indicating the level of understanding and performance they are expected to achieve as a result of engaging in the teaching and learning experience. The intended learning outcomes give the course a sense of direction. They help with managing expectations of students, and they help the teacher to determine which content should and should not be included. The intended learning outcomes should be formulated in such a way that they indicate which activities are more likely to help achieve these. Using action verbs is one way of achieving this. After defining the intended learning outcomes, engaging, teaching, and learning activities have to be selected.
The actual verbs formulated in the learning outcomes should be taken as a starting point in selecting the appropriate teaching and learning activities. Which activity would be the most likely to encourage the students to engage with these action verbs? After identifying the teaching and learning activities, appropriate assessment and feedback tasks have to be created. Assessment that corresponds to the formulated learning outcomes. Since constructive alignment is a dynamic process, it is also possible to start with creating assessment and feedback tasks before thinking about the teaching and learning activities. The three components of constructive alignment, the intended learning outcomes, the teaching and learning activities, and the assessment and feedback tasks, are interrelated.
Therefore when revising one of them, revision of all of them is necessary.
In this animation we will introduce the three main building blocks of a course:
  • the intended learning outcomes
  • the teaching and learning activities
  • the assessment and feedback tasks
  • Biggs, J., & Tang, C. (2011). Teaching for quality learning at university (4th ed.). Berkshire, England: Open University Press.
This article is from the free online

Becoming a Student Assistant: Teaching and Mentoring

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Our purpose is to transform access to education.

We offer a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. These are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life.

We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, so our courses offer the opportunity to discuss what you’re learning with others as you go, helping you make fresh discoveries and form new ideas.
You can unlock new opportunities with unlimited access to hundreds of online short courses for a year by subscribing to our Unlimited package. Build your knowledge with top universities and organisations.

Learn more about how FutureLearn is transforming access to education