Constructive alignment and the Research Skills Development Framework: using theory to practically align graduate attributes, learning experiences, and assessment tasks in undergraduate midwifery

Midwifery educators have to provide students with stimulating curricula that teach academic and vocational content, as well as transferable skills. The Research Skills Development (RSD) framework provides a conceptual model that allows educators to explicitly scaffold the development of their students’ research skills. This paper aims to demonstrate the effective use of the RSD framework and constructive alignment theory to redesign a second-year Midwifery assessment task. The assessment task was changed into a scenario-based question to better reflect the unit learning objectives and expected graduate attributes. Students were provided with extra time in class to explore the assessment task in a peer environment. Following the return of their assessments, students were asked to complete a questionnaire to evaluate the effectiveness of the assessment redesign. We show that using a constructively aligned scenario-based assessment task in a second year unit more successfully articulated the expected graduate attributes of midwives. Qualitative and quantitative feedback suggested that students and staff appreciated a more clinically-relevant assessment task. This paper demonstrates that the use of the RSD framework to constructively align graduate attributes, learning experiences, and assessment tasks allows for the transformation of undergraduate assessment into a learning experience relevant to clinical practice.