Continued our discussion on curriculum design, this time using John Biggs’s idea of constructive alignment. This is the theory that learning is best accomplished by having students construct meaning for themselves, rather than trying to impart or transmit knowledge. The role of the teacher in this model is to be a catalyst for learning and to facilitate the process by providing relevant learning activities and an optimum environment in which learning can take place.
We then discussed the importance of getting learning outcomes right and the need to regularly review and revise them based on student outcomes. A tip given for writing learning outcomes was to avoid using ‘understand’ as the measurable verb, to instead use something which places the focus on a practical application if possible. Again, Bloom’s taxonomy was recommended as a source of inspiration for alternatives.
For the afternoon session there was a change of lecturer and topic, to discuss the scholarship of teaching and learning using the work of Angela Brew as a starting point. The argument here is that, as an academic, you should focus on teaching and learning first, and scholarship will follow naturally. We discussed Foucault’s ideas about truth and the regimes of truth, and how the current neoliberal agenda is repurposing higher education to produce employable and marketable students who will become high earners, rather than the traditional purpose which was to produce citizens capable of critical and independent thought. Tying these strands together, if the neoliberalisation of HE was applied consistently, then teaching would be more highly valued than scholarship or research, as the bulk of university funding now comes directly from students through tuition fees.