Benefits of Backward (Course) Design

3 Stages of ("Backward") Design: 1. Identify desired results; 2. Determine acceptable evidence; 3. Plan learning experiences & instruction."

1. "Understanding by Design" (web page) "offers a framework for designing courses and content units called 'Backward Design.'"

  • "Instructors typically approach course design in a 'forward design' manner, meaning they consider the learning activities (how to teach the content), develop assessments around their learning activities, then attempt to draw connections to the learning goals of the course."
  • "In contrast, the backward design approach has instructors consider the learning goals of the course first."
  • "These learning goals embody the knowledge and skills instructors want their students to have learned when they leave the course."
  • "Once the learning goals have been established, the second stage involves consideration of assessment."

2. "The backward design framework suggests that instructors should consider these overarching learning goals and how students will be assessed prior to consideration of how to teach the content."

  • "For this reason, backward design is considered a much more intentional approach to course design than traditional methods of design.

3. Content covered in "Understanding by Design" includes the following: 

  • The benefits of using backward design
  • The three stages of backward design
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