- Backwards design (or backward design) is an instructional design method invented by Wiggins and McTighe and is part of their larger Understanding by Design framework.
- “ Backward design begins with the end in mind: What enduring understandings do I want my students to develop?” (). It is particularly suited for teacher designers who think in terms of what they wish to achieve.
2 The model
The model has 3 stages:
- Identify desired results (learning outcomes)
- “ What should students know, understand, and be able to do? What is worthy of understanding? What enduring understandings are desired?” ()
- Determine Acceptable Evidence (means to assess if learners have learnt)
- “ How will we know if students have achieved the desired results and met the standards? What will we accept as evidence of student understanding and proficiency?”()
- Plan learning experiences and instruction. This includes:
- definition of knowledge (know-that), skills and procedures (know-how) students ought to master
- definition of materials
- definition of learning /teaching activities (scenarios).
Wiggins and McTighe insist a lot on enduring understandings and that go beyond simple facts and skills to include larger concepts, principles or processes.
There exist other variants, e.g. below is a set of steps adapted to specific schoolteachers in a specific environment (see Backward Design Overview & FAQ:
- Decide on the themes, enduring understandings and essential questions for the unit.
- Design a summative for the end of the unit.
- Align the unit with the New York State ELA Standards and choose outcomes, strategies and best practices to teach them.
- Choose resources to create a rich and engaging multi-genre thematically-linked unit.
- Weave back and forth across the curriculum map to make revisions and refinements.
- Developing Goals and Objectives
- Understanding by Design Exchange. This is the Website sponsored by Grant Wiggins & Jay McTighe. Includes resources.
- Understanding by Design (PDF Slides by Ellen.B Meier)
- Principles of Backward Design
- Backward Design (Overview & FAQ at B. Ladwig and K Pagano-Fuller's English Language Arts Site.)
- Backward design process at DigitalLiteracy (include a nice 1-page summary in PDF.
- Principles of Backward Design (Short overview and some pointers).
- Janice Christy (2004), Teaching for Understanding (This short article gives and overview of the larger context "learning by design").
- Wiggins,G., McTighe, J. (2006) Are the Best Curricular Designs "Backward"?
- Wiggins,G., McTighe, J. (2001). Understanding by Design, Prentice Hall. ISBN 013093058X
- Wiggins,G. & Jay McTighe: (2004). Understanding by Design Professional Development Workbook, Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD), Alexandria, VA.