24.S95 | Spring 2023 | Graduate

Linguistics in K–12 Education

Using a "Backwards" Course Design

Below, Prof. Maya Honda discusses her implementation of the Understanding by Design approach in 24.S95.

In the Understanding by Design (UbD) framework developed by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe, the instructor begins designing an instructional unit (which can be a course, a unit, or a lesson) by identifying and clearly stating the “desired results,” the learning goals. That sounds commonsensical, but often as not, as instructors, we jump into designing a course or a unit around topics or activities, without clarifying for ourselves and our students what we want them to understand and what we expect them to be able to do with what they learn. Identifying “desired results” is directly tied to the next step in course design, which is determining “evidence of understanding.” We all want our students to understand what we teach them, but how will we know if they do? In the UbD framework, instructors must articulate for their students how they will demonstrate learning and understanding. Students shouldn’t be left wondering, What does the instructor want? After determining “desired results” and “evidence of understanding,” then the instructor moves on to developing a “learning plan” and “learning events”; the syllabus and the lesson plans come last, not first, in the UbD framework.

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2023
Learning Resource Types
Instructor Insights
Lecture Notes
Written Assignments with Examples