An Investigation of Constructive Alignment between Learning Outcomes and Assessment in English Department Modules
Keywords:constructive alignment, learning outcomes, revised Bloom’s Cognitive Taxonomy, summative assessment, education reform, perceptions and practices
Before the 21st century education reform, most university teachers considered assessment quality to be based on studied material comprehensiveness. The current requirements of society and market have given rise to a considerable change in dealing with and assessing information at university level from content memorisation to using the content information in daily life to do various tasks; for instance, solving problems, applying studied information to new situations, and evaluating it.
In the Iraqi Kurdistan Region, such a shift in assessment quality is rarely perceived as a way of preparing university students for the present labour market, especially in terms of focusing on the course-syllabus learning outcomes (CSLO) and final written examinations (FWE). This could be due to the fact that the university examination questions of the region are not currently reviewed by the quality assurance of college or the scientific committee of department as part of education quality. Thus, at the absence of quality control, some instructors may design examination questions the way they prefer as university students complain about the differences in the difficulty level of various examination questions.
Through content analysis, the present study investigates the quality of learning outcomes stated in the course syllabi, the knowledge depth in final examination questions, the alignment extent between FWE and CSLO in terms of knowledge depth. Additionally, it studies the instructors’ perceptions and practices of constructive alignment via using an interview, at English Department, College of Basic Education, Salahaddin University-Erbil for the academic year 2020-2021. Both quantitative and qualitative methods have been used for data collection and analysis in this study.
Among the study findings are that university teachers are unaware of the constructive alignment between the learning outcomes of a module and its summative assessment questions; and they largely focus on lower thinking skills, rather than higher thinking skills of the revised Bloom’s cognitive taxonomy in their written examination questions. To improve the quality of constructive alignment between learning outcomes and assessment, several recommendations are finally put forward.