How to make sure that students appreciate your active learning method – 1?

Active learning methods are not always appreciated by students. As a teacher, you notice that students do not participate in the lesson, or that they evaluate the teaching low. How can this be? In a series of tips, we will discuss different partial answers. This tip is about the importance of constructive alignment.

Constructive alignment

The use of active learning methods should not be a goal in itself. As a teacher, you must always ensure that learning objectives, learning activities, and assessment are in line with one another (that is constructive alignment).

We can make this “alignment” clear with the help of an example. Suppose your learning goal is that students learn to write an argument, that they do various writing exercises in class and at home, and that the test form is an essay. Then you see that learning objectives, teaching methods and assessment are all in line with each other: they reinforce each other. This is an example of when students will appreciate active teaching methods.

Imagine, however, that the test in this case was the ability to name the characteristics of an argument using multiple choice questions. Students then have to search for the value of a writing exercise, and this can be seen in their decreased participation in the work form and possibly a lower student evaluation.

If the criterion of constructive alignment is not met, it is advisable to first take a good look at the design of the course and adjust it where necessary, so that learning objectives, learning activities, and testing fit in with each other. after all: students adjust their learning behaviour to what is asked in the test.


Choose one learning goal of which you know students appreciate the active participation. Which action verb is in that learning objective (e.g. analyse/ reasoning). Do you see that reflected in the assessment – that they are tested on that action verb? Which active teaching methods are used to achieve the learning objective – is that same action verb practised?

And now take a look at a course in which students are not activated or where there are complaints about the activating methods. Which action verb is there in the learning objective? And is that action verb also tested? And what kind of working methods is used?

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