FULT ePortfolio Blogs #7: Models to support educational design

The task: These four models support the approach to educational design at UNSW:

  • Constructive Alignment
  • Integrated Curriculum Framework (ICF)
  • RASE
  • Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

In this discussion, select two of these learning design models. Compare and contrast your two models and for each post one principle for good learning design.



I’m a big fan of cnstructive alignment and try to practice it when I have the time to do so. The basis of constructive alignment is trapping students into learning what you want them to learn, at the level you want them to learn it, by aligning the Learning Outcomes (LOs) with the Learning Activities (LAs) and the Assessment Tasks (ATs). This is approach means that students who take a shallow or strategic approach are pushed into deep learning just so they can pass. To make this work, you need to be well organised, and be planning a course as whole – not making it up as you go along and writing the exam at the end. One important principle is that the assessment is determined by the desired learning outcomes.    This sounds like a no-brainer, but far too often LOs like “develop team work and comunicaion skills” appear in courses for which the only assessment is an individual exam.

Universal design for learning, based on Universal Design in architecture, is quite different to constructive alignment, and complements it with very little overlap. It seems to almost be an ideology rather than a model for design – a statement of values that learning should be designed such that it is accessible to everyone regardless of their diversity of  experience, ability, needs, etc. One core principle is providing multiple means of expression. I think as a guiding principle it’s great, and I have tried to do this in some of my teaching – for example first year physics open assignment that could be submitted as nearly anything, including interpretive dance. But I teach into engineering now and there are professional standards of competence in, for example, technical drawing. There are ways to mitigate issues of diversity, particularly by using enabling technologies. But ultimately, I need my students to create a free body diagram.


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