Traditional models of teaching and instruction start with course activities and move towards assessment and the identification of learning outcomes. Following this model instructors choose to teach topics and skills they find most essential or interesting, or that align with directed curriculums or learning plans.

Developed by Wiggins & McTighe (2005) the “backwards design” educational model starts with the identification of desired learning goals, objectives and outcomes. A curriculum is then developed to meet those specific goals, objectives, and outcomes.

Benefits of Backwards Design

  • Improved program organization: Knowing what the end result should be can provide a guiding structure to program components;
  • Ease of assessment: Thinking about and planning for assessment at the start of a course or program ensures the appropriate data will be available for use;
  • Increased student engagement: When program activities have a known objective or purpose, students perceive those activities as having more value to them.

References and Resources

Wiggins, Grant, and Jay McTighe. (2005). Understanding by Design. Expanded 2nd Edition. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.