Mapping new courses for Constructive Alignment

Learning Experience DesignLeave a Comment


Using a Course Map during the curriculum design process with new course supports constructive alignment and supports staff collaboration.

Related pattern: Course Mapping


A new online graduate program is being developed in the School of Architecture and Design. Dr Judy Rogers is using Course Mapping to build constructively aligned course plans. This involves specifying the outcomes for students and detailing what activities, experiences, resources, and support will be required across all 13 weeks to achieve those outcomes. Creating a visual map of these elements allows the multi-disciplinary curriculum design team—as well as other academic staff in the School—to discuss the delivery methods and collaborate more effectively on identifying learning resources and suitable online delivery tools, and then developing the course in Blackboard.


It is a more visual, comprehensive way of presenting the course guide and ensuring a robust course. In keeping with the idea of constructive alignment (Biggs, 1996), the course map draws together the course-level outcomes and assessments with the activities and resources for both students and staff that create “an environment that maximizes the likelihood that students will engage in the activities designed to achieve the intended outcomes” (Biggs, 2003). When working in curriculum design teams, it ensures that everyone involved in the project understands your course landscape, and thus how best to support the development and delivery of new learning activities or modes, resources, or assessments.


  1. Start with a core component of the course that is already defined (e.g., the assessments from Part B Course Guide), and complete that element of the map across 13 weeks.
  2. Build the other elements of the course around this. How do the other activities in the course help students build toward the assessment? What resources and support do students require to learn what is expected?
  3. Once you’ve filled in elements of the course, check the Course Map for a logical progression in the rows horizontally, but ensure that within a given week or module the different elements align to enable the weekly outcomes.
  4. Involve people connected with the course or program who can offer different viewpoints to review, question, and support this process.

Copies of the course map template are available in the Learning Design Resources section.

Tip: Using a large printed map and Post-it Notes helps the design to remain flexible and evolve as the work progresses, and also encourages collaboration.


Biggs, J. (1996). Enhancing teaching through constructive alignment. Higher Education, 32: 347-364. Available online.

Biggs, J. (2003). Aligning teaching and assessing to course objectives. Teaching and Learning in Higher Education: New Trends and Innovations. University of Aveiro, 13-17. Available online.


Dr Judy Rogers (Senior Lecturer, School of Architecture & Design)

Andrea McLagan (Educational Developer, College of Design and Social Context)

Feature image licensed Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Brandon Martin-Anderson

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments