John Biggs among the Queen's Birthday honours list

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The eminent higher education researcher and university educator John Burville Biggs dedicated his university career to helping others understand that it is what the student does that impacts on the quality of learning. 

He was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia for significant service to tertiary education, particularly in the fields of curriculum development and assessment.

Although he retired from University of Hong Kong in the late-1990s his ideas on student learning have continued to have a major impact in higher education curriculum development.

John's early research was into the study habits of students from which he developed the Study Process Questionnaire that provided much of the empirical evidence that students take qualitatively different approaches to learning. 

He later worked with Kevin Collis on Developed Structure of the Observed Learning Outcome (SOLO) which showed that learning was not about developmental stages, but as students developed they accrued extra ways of handling the world.

These ideas were integrated into the 3P model of student learning which was extended by Prosser and Trigwell to show the relationship between what the teacher does and what the student does. 

He is perhaps best known for the formulation of constructive alignment as an integrated, authentic version of curriculum design. In his article on constructive alignment in HERDSA Review of Higher Education John Biggs (2014) makes it clear that his focus is on the constructivist aspects of student learning. Alignment may be an engine of effective learning but “knowledge is constructed through the activities of the learner” (p. 7). The focus on defining what students ought to be learning is what makes constructive alignment a distinctive approach to curriculum development.  

Before Constructive Alignment curriculum design in universities was largely an individual responsibility with academics using their personal experiences to decide what students should learn. The idea that course teams might work collectively on a course design is now an accepted approach to curriculum development with many Australasian universities explicitly naming constructive alignment as the approach they adopt when they design courses or programs. 

Biggs, J.B. (2014). Constructive Alignment in University Teaching. HERDSA Review into Higher Education, Vol. 1. pp.5-22
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