Events archive

(2nd UK) Workshop on Constructive Alignment

Date: 16th January 2008
Location: Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham
- - Event has taken place --

Presentations/Event material

Addressing Student Satisfaction in Undergraduate Computing Programmes
David Cobham, Kevin Jacque, Rose Spilberg
University of Lincoln

- the use of constructive alignment in automating mass, timely and high quality feedback
[Download Powerpoint version]

Beyond Alignment
Prof. John Cowan
Heriot-Watt University

Alignment? Are the concept, and concern for it, beginning to outlive their usefulness?
[Download Powerpoint version]

Measuring Constructive Alignment: An Alignment Metric to Guide Good Practice
Dr Jon Tepper
Nottingham Trent University

Also available for download - the full paper (pdf)

[Download Powerpoint version]

Student Opinion of Learning Activities on Computing Undergraduate Degrees
John Colvin, Colin Price & Warren Wright
University of Worcester
[Download Powerpoint version]

Using Constructive Alignment to Support the Challenge of Feedback
Dr Elizabeth Burd
CETL - Active Learning in Computing, Durham University
[Download Powerpoint version]


Due to the overwhelming success of the first workshop, the Higher Education Academy Information and Computer Sciences (HEA-ICS) and Nottingham Trent University co-convene the second workshop on constructive alignment.The workshop aims to disseminate and openly share current practice, research and developments motivated by John Biggs's theory of constructive alignment.


09:30 Registration
09:45 Introduction
10:00 Constructive Alignment: Reflections on Implementation
Mr David Cobham and Mr Kevin Jacques, University of Lincoln
10:40 A Student perspective on Constructive Alignment Activities
Mr John Colvin and Dr Colin B. Price, University of Worcester
11:10 Coffee
11:30 KEY NOTE: Beyond Alignment
Prof. John Cowan, Heriot-Watt University
12:30 Lunch
CELS 001-002
13:30 Using Constructive Alignment to Support the Challenge of Feedback
Dr Elizabeth Burd, CETL - Active Learning in Computing, Durham University
14:30 Tea
15:00 Measuring Constructive Alignment: An Alignment Metric to Guide Good Practice
Dr Jon Tepper, Nottingham Trent University
15:40 The Quest for 'Total Alignment' in Computer Science Education
Dr Enda Dunican, Institute of Technology Carlow
16:20 Conclusion
16:30 Close

Designing student-centred learning and teaching activities is considered to be one of the most fundamental activities of a teaching practitioner. Since ‘The Dearing Report' in 1997 (NCIHE, 1997), HE institutions have developed their programmes around clear statements of intended learning outcomes with the expectation that the practitioner articulates the relationship between learning, teaching and assessment activities within the context of these outcomes. The individual practitioner, however, faces a multitude of challenges when attempting to establish and articulate such relationships, particularly in light of an increasingly complex curriculum caused by various government and associated institution initiatives such as widening participation, life-long learning, employability, internationalisation and accessibility. It is further complicated by the lack of a universally accepted educational framework and appropriate tools that could help practitioners' to consistently develop appropriately aligned programmes of learning.

Constructive alignment (Biggs, 1996, 2003) is gaining much popularity across the UK HE sector and is an outcome-based educational framework that inherently promotes aligned learning, teaching and assessment practices for achieving and evaluating deep student learning. This workshop aims to bring together practitioners and researchers to share current thinking, practice, research and development in methodologies, techniques and/or tools motivated by the theory of constructive alignment.


The workshop will address issues specific to the development and use of methodologies, techniques and tools motivated by constructive alignment. The workshop will address issues such as (although not limited to):

  • tools for supporting practitioners to design, develop and maintain constructively aligned curricula;
  • verb-based or phrase-based strategies for determining alignment (according to say Bloom's taxonomy (Bloom, 1956) or the revised taxonomy by Anderson & Krathwohl, 2001);
  • strategies for encouraging wide-scale adoption of constructive alignment; methods of aligning work-based learning and assessment;
  • strategies for measuring alignment;
  • computer-managed learning models that support and encourage aligned teaching practice;
  • innovative learning and teaching methods underpinned by the principles of constructive alignment;
  • dissemination of experiences of using constructively aligned curricula;
  • Contributions will be reviewed according to their relevance, originality, quality and clarity of presentation and analysis of the reported approaches.


  • Anderson, L. W., & Krathwohl, D. R. (Eds.). (2001). A taxonomy for learning, teaching and assessing: A revision of Bloom's Taxonomy of educational objectives: Complete edition . New York : Longman.
  • Biggs, J. (1996). Enhancing teaching through constructive alignment. Higher Education , vol. 32, no. 3, pp. 347-64.
  • Biggs, J. (2003). Teaching for Quality Learning at University (2nd edition). Society for Research into Higher Education, Open University Press.
  • Bloom, Benjamin S. & David R. Krathwohl. (1956). Taxonomy of educational objectives: The classification of educational goals, by a committee of college and university examiners. Handbook 1: Cognitive domain . New York , Longmans.
  • National Committee of Inquiry into Higher Education (NCIHE), (1997). Higher Education in the Learning Society . London , HMSO.

The workshop will be a mixture of presentations and open discussions conducted by the attendees.

Dr Jonathan Tepper
School of Science and Technology
Computing and Informatics Building
Nottingham Trent University
Clifton Campus, Clifton Lane
Nottingham , NG11 8NS

Programme Committee

Speaker Biographies

Elizabeth Burd works within the Department of Computer Science at the University of Durham where she is Deputy Dean of Science. She has a first degree in Education and a PhD in Software Engineering. Liz is the Director of the HEFCE Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning – Active Learning in Computing. She is also the Higher Education Academy Information and Computer Sciences Northern Coordinator and is responsible for encouraging and promoting educational research activities within the North of England. Her research interests are in computing education and the analysis and visualisation of large data sets and of software change patterns.

David Cobham has been teaching, researching and acting as a consultant in Information Systems for over 20 years. He has published work in both IS Development and Pedagogy. He is co-author of the standard university text “Business Information Systems: Analysis Design and Practice” which has run to five editions and recently been translated into Chinese. His current role is Head of Department of Computing and Informatics.

John Colvin is a Teaching Fellow and Senior Lecturer in Computing at University of Worcester . He has been involved in a number of Learning & Teaching research projects related to the delivery of computing courses, in areas such as information literacy, e-learning, constructive alignment and delivering computer programming modules to non-computing students

In 2003, Graham Gibbs described to an international conference the difficulty of redirecting the ponderous bulk of the supertanker of higher education. He instanced John Cowan , pulling sideways from his canoe and - despite his energetic and enthusiastic efforts to innovate over 40 years - having little impact. John laughed with the others. Yet prominent teachers, here or abroad, often acknowledge that they and their colleagues have made radical changes in their students' learning experiences – as a result of something he said, suggested or did, while he was working with them at the cutting edge of practice.

Enda Dunican has a B.Sc and M.Sc in computer science and an Education Doctorate from the University of Leicester . He has been a lecturer in computer science for the last 12 years at the Institute of Technology Carlow , Ireland where he mainly teaches computer programming. His main research interest is novice computer programming learning and has written many papers on this topic. He is an active member of the Psychology of Programming interest group.

Kevin Jacques spent 15 years in private sector management before falling into academia in 1998. Since then he has been developing his teaching and administration skills whilst doing occasional consultancies in contingency planning and systems analysis. He is a passionate believer in pedagogic excellence and is currently engaged in a professional doctorate in Educational Policy and Values.

Colin B. Price holds a first degree M.A. in Natural Sciences ( Cambridge , UK ) and a Ph.D in electronic engineering from the Catholic University of Leuven ( Belgium ). He has taught physics at both secondary school level and in higher education. At Worcester he is currently teaching programming and game-development modules. His research interests include approaches to the teaching of programming, but also the application of game technology in education and training. His favourite research area continues from Turing's “wetware” machine; the modelling of biophysical systems, through the use of “reaction-diffusion” equations. Here he works close with colleagues from Moscow State University .

Jon Tepper is a Learning and Teaching Co-ordinator for the School of Science and Technology at NTU and holds a first degree and Ph.D in Computer Science. Jon's discipline-based research activities include neurally-inspired computing and its application to natural language comprehension and temporal sequence processing. Jon's learning and teaching interests are grounded in constructivist-inspired models and metrics of educational phenomena.