Daily Archives: December 27, 2010

John Biggs: “Constructive Alignment” (Theory + Video)

John Biggs has been hugely influential as an educational psychologist. His notion of ‚constructive alignment’ has become an pillar in pedagogic theory. Watch this award winning 20 min film about the core ideas of Briggs put forward in a classroom setting in rather a unique way.

“Teaching Teaching & Understanding Understanding”
Claus Brabrand and Jacob Andersen
19 minute award-winning short-film (DVD) about Constructive Alignment.
( http://www.daimi.au.dk/~brabrand/short-film/ )
Aarhus University Press, University of Aarhus, Denmark, 2006.

His theory in a nutshell:

Leaving behind the good student/bad student; good teacher/bad teacher model, Biggs presents a practical approach about about how all teachers can achieve an ‚intended learning outcome’. „In 1976, Swedish researchers Ference Marton and Roger Saljö demonstrated that students learn not what teachers think they should learn, but what students perceive the task to demand of them.“ (John Biggs Website). It implies knowledge is created less by teacher’s transmission but more by construction through learner’s activity. It’s not what the teacher does but what the learner does is of more importance when it comes to understanding the teaching/learning system.

About assessment it says that exams are only one sort of assessment, they don’t assess how well you can use the topic to inform their behaviour. In constructive alignment, the assessment task is how well can students apply given principles. The most important learning outcomes are: bringing about a) different behaviour and  about b) making informed decisions.

…And teaching is about weaving a constructive web of learning where students are activated to develop higher level cognitive processes – climbing through the 5 cognitive levels of the ‚SOLO Taxonomy’; it’s about shifting students from the mode of ‚surface learning’ to ‚deep learning’.

…more to follow at a later post. Here is his book: Teaching for Quality Learning at University” (Biggs, Tang 1999/2007. MacGraw Hill, NY)

..and he is a prolific writer of travelogues and novels!! http://www.johnbiggs.com.au/writer.html

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Doha – WISE:World Innovation Summit for Education. December 7-10; 2010

Two weeks ago, one of the most important international conferences on education took place (for the second time) in Doha, the capital of Qatar, a country now widely known for it’s winning the bid for Soccer World Cup in 2022, and less known for its enormously ambitious educational development program. The Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development, led by Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, is the organization spearheading this ambitious program. Its flagship product is the ‘Education City’, a campus comprising six (!) universities including Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, Carnegie Mellon and others. Qatar is surely one of the places where innovation in education is taking place in a very thoughtful way.

Looking into the website of WISE surprises you not only with an excellent collection of videos of keynote highlights from the conference but also a collection of films made by their ‘Learning World Channel’ that show short films like on Finnish Schools or on the international winning projects prized by the Summit. The summit is not a one-time thing, its becoming a platform. Very enjoyable and informative!