In brief:

  • Course alignment is a quality assurance check of a course design
  • Course alignment is an analysis of the key components of a course to determine that they work as an aggregate body to meet the overall curriculum objectives
  • An alignment exercise can be performed to validate a specific evaluation, a course plan, or an entire program curriculum.

*Note: this module focuses on alignment in a course plan

Course alignment

Course alignment is a curriculum-focussed exercise to validate that your assessment tasks, teaching materials, and learning activities all directly support your course learning outcomes.

While a course alignment exercise requires an investment of time and thoughtful and thorough analysis to be successful, the results will yield improved teaching practices, more robust evaluation practices, enhanced curriculum transparency and cohesion, and increased student motivation and performance.

If students are routinely not performing well on a particular assignment, an alignment exercise can help determine if a ‘misalignment’ could be the cause.

It is advisable to conduct a course alignment exercise when planning a new course and thereafter every three to five years to ensure the course design remains optimal. It is also advisable to perform a course alignment analysis if there are changes made to any aspect of the course curriculum (Eg: the teaching and learning resources, the assessment activities. etc.).

Practicing alignment is a powerful tool for educators that can be used at the program level  (map all program courses to the program learning outcomes), at the course level (confirm all components work in harmony to deliver a robust curriculum)  or at a discrete level (analyze a single learning activity or assessment to validate that it connects directly to the intended learning outcome).

The next section will:

  • discuss how course alignment promotes teaching excellence.