John Biggs: Constructive Alignment Of Learning, Surface And Deep Learning And The SOLO Taxonomy


John Biggs is one of the most renowned theorists who worked as an educational researcher for more than 40 years. He is known as a tertiary level learning and teaching leader. He has been an inspiration for current century learning and development leaders and educational researchers. He is among the few scholars who researched learning and development from a cross-cultural perspective. Thus, his work has significantly helped overcome the learning challenges in today’s diversified and broader learning environments. He presented many valuable theories. This blog will discuss three of the most notable theories and how ID9 Intelligent Design uses these theories. These include the following:

  1. Constructive alignment of learning
  2. Surface and deep approaches to learning
  3. The SOLO taxonomy

Theory Linking to ID9 Intelligent Design

As a snapshot of Bigg’s theory, There are two basic concepts behind constructive alignment:

  1. Learners construct meaning from what they do to learn. This concept derives from cognitive psychology and constructivist theory, and recognizes the importance of linking new material to concepts and experiences in the learner’s memory and the extrapolation to possible future scenarios via the abstraction of basic principles through reflection.
  2. The facilitator makes a deliberate alignment between the planned learning activities and the learning outcomes. This is a conscious effort to provide the learner with a clearly specified goal, a well-designed learning activity or activities that are appropriate for the task, and well-designed assessment criteria for giving feedback to the learner.

Constructive Alignment Of Learning

The constructive alignment theory has two parts. The first part talks about the constructive aspect, while the second part refers to the alignment concept. The constructive element refers to the idea that learners construct through relevant learning activities. Biggs refers to teaching as a catalyst for learning and development. He emphasizes that if the learners are supposed to learn specific outcomes, their trainer’s responsibility is to engage them in learning activities that are likely to bring out such outcomes.

The next aspect, i.e., alignment, refers to how an trainer aligns the learning activities that support the learning environment. This alignment helps in achieving the learning outcomes. The key in this aspect is that the instructional design must align the assessment talks and learning design systems with the intended outcomes to yield the best learner experience.

ID9 – Making The Most Of Constructive Alignment Of Learning

ID9 Intelligent Design ensures developing such instructional designs that optimally align the instruction and deliverables with the learning outcome. Our primary goal is to deliver the best learning experience design. With our designs, the learner finds it simpler to achieve the learning outcomes that were intended for him or her.

Surface And Deep Approaches To Learning

John Biggs compiled the characteristics of surface and deep approaches to learning in 1999. He used the works of Entwistle (1988) and Ramsden (1992) to put forward a wholesome concept. According to Biggs, surface learning and deep learning has one contemporary difference. It is the critical examination of ideas and facts. In surface learning, the learners accept the facts and ideas and store them as unconnected and isolated concepts in their minds. On the other hand, in deep learning, the learners tend to critically analyze and examine the ideas and try to connect them with an existing idea or fact.

Both of these concepts are differently encouraged by the learners and trainers. For example, consider a learner who is using a deep learning approach. He will always be curious about the subject and make inquiries. He will be mentally engaged when he does academic work. In comparison, a surface learner is not interested or engaged in the subject as he only studies for qualification. A deep learner always has sound background knowledge, pursues interest using remarkable skills, and understands the education to succeed.

When we talk about trainers in deep learning, we see that they show interest in the subject, thereby bringing out its true essence. These trainers focus and confront the student’s questions and queries. They keep the knowledge bank of their learners updated and ask questions to create links between what they already know and what’s new.

ID9 Intelligent Design – Making The Most Of The Deep Learning Approaches

ID9 Intelligent Design makes sure that the instructional design courses help the learners and trainers align the deliverables. We ensure that learners understand, engaged, and interact throughout the course. Our learning experience platforms encourage feedback, and the learners feel free to ask any question anytime. In this way, we make sure that the learners are learning enough to master a skillset. Using our highly innovative learning analytics and designs, you can make sure that the participants learn and develop instead of just sitting there to get their hands on a certification.

The SOLO Taxonomy

John Biggs identifies that as learning progresses and becomes diverse, it becomes equally complex. The term SOLO stands for “Structure of Observed Learning Outcomes.” This means that learning outcomes should enable learners to achieve quality. They should not just hang around the bits that learners marked right. If a learner passes the assessments and fails the workshops, he is not achieving the learning outcomes in terms of quality.

To ensure that the learning outcomes are well-structured, the instructional designer should pick a single aspect of the course for structurization. It is called unistructural taxonomy. Once they are done with it, they can move on to the other elements, which might be unrelated, thus, achieving multi-structural taxonomy. The next step is to learn how to integrate these several aspects into a whole, i.e., relational taxonomy. Finally comes the last step of SOLO taxonomy which is the extended abstract. It enables them to generalize the whole training course as a new domain of expertise they are yet to learn. View the following diagram to learn more about these various levels:

Source: www.johnbiggs.com.au

ID9 – Making The Most Of The SOLO Taxonomy

While all the literature you will find is most likely to focus SOLO in learning assessments only. However, ID9 Intelligent Design builds in aspects of SOLO to be used to design a curriculum and activities. SOLO can directly facilitate constructive alignment of learning by creating the training activities. These activities will ultimately help in deep learning approaches by engaging the learners. Thus, ID9 ensures the development of highly interesting, informative, and engaging instructional and learning design systems using the theoretical provisions of the SOLO taxonomy.

Influence on ID9 Concept and steps

  • Step 1: Aim – Early engagement, participant  centered learning and a  positive learning environment  creates a platform for ‘DEEP’   
  • Step 3: Big Picture Overview – connect course objectives  and outcomes with each   
  • Step 4: Connect – activity designed to connect the  learning to each participant. 
  • Step 5: Topic Rotation Tool – Drawing together  adult learning engagement  methods and styles to assist  in the transfer and application    Step 8: Evaluation – the  importance of assessing  learning. 

In Conclusion

We value the theoretical foundations laid by many learning theorists, including John Biggs. Thus, we ensure that we make the most of all learning and development achievements done by these theorists. John Biggs is one of the supportive ID9 intelligent design theorists.

We create the most well-thought and highly engaging instructional designs. Using our expertise, you can create a course to ensure that every participant on a learning experience platform achieves the desired learning outcomes.

Contact us today to start designing courses with us!