Controversial? Clearly stated goals are not always helpful

Clearly stated goals are not always helpful to students

It’s easy to believe that clear goals are a ‘good thing’ for students. Designing learning and curricula around goals is widely regarded as good practice, and there is considerable evidence to show that aligning learning with clear goals is useful. Many university courses are designed around John Biggs’ principle of ‘constructive alignment’ which emphasises the importance of clear goals in aligning learning activities with outcomes.

But is it as clear cut as this? In this article on the SEDA blog, Graham Gibbs provides a detailed and interesting critique of the effect of goals on student learning. While the value of goals certainly shouldn’t be ignored, Gibbs’ perspective highlights that it is important to adopt a critical perspective when designing learning in order to ensure that goals, objective and outcomes do not get in the way of effective teaching and learning.


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