Constructive alignment and the learning experience: relationships with student motivation and perceived learning demands
Rossnagel, Christian Stamov and Fitzallen, N and Lo Baido, Katrin, Constructive alignment and the learning experience: relationships with student motivation and perceived learning demands, Higher Education Research & Development, 40, (4) pp. 838-851. ISSN 0729-4360 (2021) [Refereed Article]
The constructive alignment (CA) of university teaching has received considerable attention from a policy-making perspective, but much less so from a student perspective. Against this background, we explored the relationships between CA and student motivation, and between CA and perceived learning demands. Fifty-six students from two second-year courses in different study programmes completed questionnaires in the second (T-1), seventh (T-2), and the final fourteenth (T-3) course week. We assessed students' surface and deep learning approaches at T-1, and their perceptions of constructive alignment, learning demands, as well as their learning motivation at T(2)and T-3. Regression analyses showed that ILO Clarity (i.e., being clear about a course's intended learning outcomes) was coupled with stronger self-competence perceptions, more enjoyment of and effort invested into the learning, and higher ratings of the course as useful. Perceiving teaching-learning activities (TLA) as aligned with ILO was associated with enjoyment of the course and with usefulness ratings, whilst the alignment of assessment tasks (AT) with ILO and TLA went with higher learning efforts and usefulness perceptions. Finally, receiving effective feedback went with higher usefulness ratings. Concerning learning demands, TLA alignment was coupled with lower ratings of temporal demands and the frustration from learning, whereas higher levels of perceived AT Alignment went with lower mental demands and frustration perceptions. Finally, AT Alignment and Effective Feedback were coupled with using more deep learning strategies. Surface learning strategies were used less the clearer ILO were, the better TLA were aligned with ILO, and the more effective feedback was perceived to be. In sum, our findings suggest that CA perceptions are meaningful predictors of student motivation and that CA influences motivation on different 'routes' (e.g., enjoyment, usefulness).