Designing an aligned curriculum

Designing an aligned curriculum means setting clear goals for teaching and ensuring that the contents and evaluation methods form a consistent whole. From a student viewpoint, aligning curricula at the programme level is a central factor contributing to wellbeing during one’s studies.
Students in a lecture. Photo: Unto Rautio / Aalto University.

Define intended learning outcomes for your programme 

Designing a curriculum starts with defining the intended learning outcomes of your degree programme. The intended learning outcomes set for individual courses should be examined in the light of those set for the whole programme to ensure that the course goals support those of the programme, or in other words, that the two are aligned. When the learning outcomes of the programme and its courses are aligned, assessing student attainment of the intended learning outcomes of an individual course contributes to the assessment of how well the learning outcomes of the entire programme were attained.

Deepen the students’ learning, course by course

When teaching is aligned, students are steered towards their intended learning outcomes gradually, allowing them to build upon, rather than excessively repeat, what they have learnt on previous courses. This means that putting new skills into practice only takes place after careful introduction to the topic on previous courses; students are given the opportunity to deepen and expand their knowledge and skills in a consistent manner, making use of their previous knowledge.

Plan the academic year together with teachers

Programme-level collaboration in curriculum design helps to ensure that students learn in a variety of various ways and by different methods during their degree studies. When the course timetables of the programme are designed collaboratively, it is possible to stagger demanding project or group work assignments so that they do not overlap, thus keeping the overall workload reasonable for the student. Collaboration at the programme level also helps to ensure that students are introduced to any learning tools (e.g. software) at the right time in their studies. Ideally, cooperating in curriculum design also supports well-being at work.

Essentially, designing an aligned curriculum means seeing the different elements of the degree programme as the building blocks of a unified whole. 

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