Information on Backward Design from SOIREE

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Information on Backward Design from SOIREE

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Information on Backward Design from SOIREE

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What is Understanding by Design?

One approach to designing learning experiences is the Understanding by Design (UbD) framework (Wiggins & McTighe, 2005). This approach says that we need to know what we want as the end result of a lesson or modules prior to planning for it. That is, we should know what mastery looks like and design learning experiences that enable students to achieve mastery. We can compare the process of UbD to curriculum mapping. When preparing a new course or revamping an existing one, you might begin with the standards, goals, or objectives that you want students to achieve. You then utilize that to design learning experiences that enable students to demonstrate the level of mastery expected. To reiterate, you begin with the goal or results in mind rather than the content itself.

What is Backward Design?

Backward design is a three-stage process that stems from the UbD framework. One key concept of backward design is alignment. Stage 1's content must be what's addressed in Stage 2 and 3. The three stages of the backward design process are:

  1. Identify desired results
  2. Determine assessment evidence
  3. Plan learning experiences and instruction

The video below provides an overview of the backward design experience for course development. 

To further develop your understanding of the three stages, please explore the "Three Stages of Backward Design" section of Vanderbilt University's Understanding by Design webpage. 

What does this mean for your teaching and online course development?

As you begin to think about moving your content from a face-to-face or hybrid experience to a fully online experience, we recommend looking back at the curriculum you've previously taught. And, by curriculum, we mean the large curricular goals...not the focused, lesson-by-lesson content. If you don't have an existing curriculum map for your course, do you have an outline of topics and course objectives listed in your syllabus? Now, look at it through the eyes of backward design. Are you still able to achieve all of the goals and objectives that you intended on students performing at a mastery level? If not, how do the goals and objectives need to be reworked for this new context? That would just be the start of things in Stage 1 of the process.

To support you as you think through the stages, please make a copy of this backward design template in Google Sheets. Take a few minutes to try and work through Stage 1 of the template through the lens of your entire course. Don't worry, we'll continue to build on your learning in the next mini-lesson!

Dig Deeper

If you would like to dig deeper with the UbD framework and backward design, there are numerous articles, books, and videos published to support your development. MSU Libraries provides electronic access to Wiggins and Mctighe (2005) Understanding by design. If you prefer to explore via video, you can access Moving forward with understanding by design through MSU Libraries as well.



Design Lead: Sarah Wellman

Content Leads: Kate Sonka, Stephen Thomas, and Jeremy Van Hof

Content Authors: Jason Archer, Kevin Henley, David Howe, Summer Issawi, Leslie Johnson, Rashad Muhammad, Nick Noel, Candace Robertson, Scott Schopieray, Jessica Sender, Daniel Trego, Valeta Wensloff, and Sue Halick

Posted by:
Makena Neal #iteachmsu
#soiree #design #backward design