Aligning Goals with Your Course

A clear and direct articulation of learning goals sets the stage for course and assignment design through better aligned goals, objectives, and teaching strategies. Identifying your student learning goals enables you to then examine your course to see where you’re providing opportunities for students to acquire and practice the skills that will help them reach these goals.

To achieve alignment, here are some questions you might ask:

  • What teaching strategies will you use to introduce your students to these concepts or skills?
  • What activities and assignments will encourage deepened engagement with these concepts or practice of these skills?
  • Where in the course is it appropriate to ask students to demonstrate their progress toward these goals (in ways that are ungraded and graded)?
  • What kind of feedback from you will help students to improve their progress?

Ideas to consider when answering the above:

  • Think about the assignments in your course: are any specifically designed with your course goals in mind?
  • Are questions on tests targeted to assess your students’ mastering of certain learning goals?

7 Responses to Aligning Goals with Your Course

  1. Daryl Nardick says:

    I am actually inclined to delete this page under course level goals.

    We don’t need examples of learning goals on this page cause we have this on the previous page. We need examples of each of the three statements — what it really means to align course goals with assessment, learning experience, programs. And we need the graphic on this page so that people know where “they are” in the process.

    • Leanne McWatters says:

      A clear and direct articulation of learning goals sets the stage for course and program improvements through better aligned goals, objectives, and teaching strategies.

      * Alignment between learning goals and assessment: You have already spent some time thinking about your assessments while formulating your learning goals. You’ve targeted the content and skills that you want students to understand at various levels during the learning process. You’ve outlined the various performances that will “count” as evidence for that understanding. Designing assessments that directly test whether students have achieved the learning goals that you set out for them should follow naturally from this process.

      * Alignment between learning goals and learning experiences: Review and select learning experiences and teaching strategies that target your learning goals for students. These experiences should give students practice processing material and should show you that they can problem-solve or apply the information. Don’t forget to give students feedback on their progress.

      * Alignment between learning goals and program: Learning goals offer a means for faculty to communicate about what students are learning at each level of a program. The goals can strengthen relationships among courses and define the overarching themes or goals of the program. This then facilitates coordination and gradual development of longer-term goals that can connect one year of the program to the next. This articulation among courses helps students integrate learning experiences throughout their entire program of study.

  2. Mindy McWilliams says:

    I think we should keep this page in the course level assessment cycle, but agree that it needs a little more delineation or distinction from program level alignment. To that end, I think it would be clearer to eliminate the word “program” in the first sentence.

    What distinguishes course level alignment from program level to me is in courses alignment comes from teaching strategies and assignments that both allow students to practice and allow the professor to see demonstrated performance. You have that there, but I would focus more on this (within-course practices) and leave the alignment within a curriculum or program to the program assessment section.

  3. Mindy McWilliams says:

    Suggested re-write of first sentence:
    A clear and direct articulation of learning goals sets the stage for course and assignment design through better aligned goals, objectives, and teaching strategies.

  4. Mindy McWilliams says:

    Some suggested changes in the bulleted list:
    * What teaching strategies will you use to introduce your students to these concepts or skills?
    * What activities and assignments will encourage deepened engagement with these concepts or practice of these skills?
    * Where in the course is appropriate to ask students to demonstrate their progress toward these goals (in ways that are ungraded and graded)?
    *What kind of feedback from you will help students to improve their progress?

    • Leanne McWatters says:

      Changed! Deleted text:
      # When are you introducing your students to these concepts or skills?
      # How are you reinforcing student learning through deepened engagement with these concepts or practice of these skills?
      # Where in the curriculum are you asking students to demonstrate their progress toward these goals?
      # Where are you asking students to demonstrate mastery of these concepts and skills by applying their knowledge to solving authentic problems of the discipline?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>