Constructive Alignment in Science and Engineering: From Principle to Practice
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionNordic Journal of STEM Education. 2019, 33-37. 10.5324/njsteme.v3i1.2992
This paper reports on an action research study on task design and constructive alignment in an optional module at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. While students appreciated the two professors’ teaching, high failure rates had been an issue for years. This study starts out by exploring potential causes of poor academic achievement. Rather than relying on random interventions, achievement profiles helped to identify crucial issues to inform the selection of measures to improve learning outcomes. A major issue turned out to be students’ ability to respond to conceptual questions, partly due to a mismatch between types of tasks in exercises as compared with those encountered at the final exam. A thorough redesign of the course included a voluntary mid-term exam, additions to the weekly exercises and constructively aligning course components. As a result, failure rates dropped markedly over the years, and students’ ability to cope with conceptual questions clearly improved.