Departmental Alignment

Departmental curricular alignment, known as vertical alignment, is a key support for our learners. Ultimately, large scale alignment for a major, program, or course of study is done at the department level by collectively examining the terminus outcomes for seniors and identifying which courses support those competencies.

  • Be sure to consider vertical alignment as a component of program review: Academic Program Review and Planning.
  • Determine your field’s accountability to external professional organizations and their expectations.
  • Use tools and strategies to map courses and outcomes. Tracking student competencies at the program level is possible through Canvas.
  • Consider the following questions:
    • How do your courses fit into the larger scope of the major?
    • Are your course outcomes aligned with the forward trajectory of the major?
    • What are the cross-cutting skills such as writing, soft skills, or technology use across and between courses?
    • Does your curriculum have gaps and/or redundancies?

Course Alignment

Course curriculum is the set of knowledge, skills, behaviors and dispositions intended as outcomes for the course. As you plan your course, be mindful of how it falls in the sequence for the major. Take time initially to compare your course learning objectives to the objectives for prerequisites and courses to follow yours.

  • Use textbooks as a resource FOR your curriculum. They should not be THE curriculum.
  • Intentionally create content that deliberately reflects the diversity of contributors to your field.
  • Consider the large issues in your field. What are the overarching essential questions? What are the meta considerations your students should be grappling with?
  • Utilize backward design to align all course content, assignments and assessments. Backward design has 3 main steps: (1) identify student learning objectives for the course (both at the end of the course and the progression through the course), (2) identify assessment evidence that will allow the instructor and student to gauge student mastery, and then (3) identify/develop course materials and class activities to support student learning.
  • Highlight the alignment and connections between readings, activities and assignments with the course learning objectives.
  • Align the rigor of your class activities, discussions, simulations, performances, and quizzes with the rigor of assessments.
Student working on laptop

Additional Considerations for Teaching Online

While most of the information on teaching effectiveness pertains to both RI and online classrooms, following are a few key points for online courses.

Show alignment among your course objectives, learning objectives and assessments in your online course by using a numbering system.

  • Number your course objectives (1, 2, 3, etc.).
  • As you create your module objectives, number them, as well. In Module 1, you might have objectives 1.1, 1.2, 1.3 and 1.4. In Module 2, you might have 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, and so on throughout each module in your course.
  • Tell students which course objective each module objective aligns with. For example, your Module 1 objectives might look something like:
    • 1.1 Compare and contrast xxxx (aligns with Course Objective 3).
    • 1.2 Describe xxxx (aligns with Course Objectives 1 and 2).
  • As you create your discussions and assignments in each module, tell students which module objectives each one aligns with. For example:
    • This discussion aligns with module objective 2.4.
    • This assignment aligns with module objectives 2.1 and 2.3.