Monday, February 20, 2012

Meeting the Gurus of Outcomes-Based Teaching & Learning

John Biggs lectures at TIP (2012)
"The key to  'constructive alignment' is that all components in the teaching system - the curriculum and its intended outcomes, the teaching methods used, the assessment tasks - are aligned to each other. The teacher's job is to create a learning environment that supports the learning activities appropriate to achieving the desired learning outcomes, " says John Biggs, psychologist, educator and author and the man behind 'constructive alignment' and the SOLO taxonomy.

I met John Biggs and his wife and co-author, Catherine Tang at the International Conference on Outcomes-Based Teaching and Learning (ICOBTL) held on Feb. 16-17, 2012 at the Technological Institute of the Philippines, QC Campus. Biggs and Tang were the keynote lecturers at the ICOBTL which was attended by about 500 teachers, professors, university presidents and heads from CHED, DepED, PATE and PTC.
As I mentioned in my previous blog, I have been learning about outcomes-based education (OBE) and I have learned much from the papers of Biggs and Tang. Their rationale for constructive alignment (CA) which is an example of OBTL is quite noble. Biggs say CA is "concerned only with improving teaching and learning" unlike the other proponents who apply OBE for accrediation purposes.

 Applying OBE is not something new. The new terms  like 'constructive alignment', 'intended learning outcomes' or ILO, 'teaching and learning activities' or TLA and 'assessment tasks' or AT should not intimadate the teacher. OBE or OBTL or CA has been practiced by teachers consciously or unconsciously. What the teacher should do is simply to understand the concepts and refocus his/her teaching and learning activities and assessment tasks to address learning outcomes. With OBE, there is more focus on what the teacher and student should do. This is the challenge in OBE especially for engineering educators. How can you effectively apply OBE in the teaching of a technical course with a lot of theory like 'Engineering Mechanics' or  'Theory of Structures.' I am still groping for effective strategies aside from traditional classroom lectures and I will report on this in the future.
Catherine Tang, John Biggs, my co-faculty at DLSU - Alvin Chua and I