Learning Design: Thinking about Alignment and Assessment

Before you get too far down the path of building your syllabus, we encourage you to think through your learning design. We provide a Storyboard Framework for you to consider the big picture of your course. You will, if you haven’t already, discuss this further with your Instructional Facilitator in the Learning Design Meeting.


This week, consider the concept of alignment within the context of assessment. Alignment means that we want to create continuity between the learning objectives, the course activities, the learning materials, and the assessments.

Objectives > Activities > Assessment

Why should assessments, learning objectives and instructional strategies be aligned?

Questions to Ask Yourself

  • What are the learning outcomes for this class? Do I have clear guidance from the department curriculum?
  • Are my learning outcomes observable (strong action verbs) and measurable?
  • Are my intended learning activities consistent with all the learning outcomes?
  • Does each intended learning activity help students reach the learning outcome? How does it help them? How do I know they have met or deeply understand the learning outcome? What evidence will I have of the students’ learning for this outcome?
  • Are the feedback and assessment activities consistent with the learning outcomes and the learning activities?


As you consider the broad strokes of your class, think about your options for assessment. What are some options besides quizzes and exams? Do any of these other options align with your learning outcomes?

Converting a course from a face-to-face format to an online format provides an opportunity to rethink and reconsider your usual teaching patterns. Take some time to think through these concepts and integrate these ideas into your plan for your online course.

Talk to your Instructional Facilitator for more ideas or assistance with applying these ideas to your course. Find these tips and more online in the Online Course Development Support Site.

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