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Contact Instructional Design:

Bryan Campus
Jean Anderson
Bookstore Building (G)
Room-234 979-209-7486

Brenham Campus
Arts & Sciences Bldg.
Linda Reed
Arts and Sciences Room 211

Backwards Course Design - Begin With the End in Mind

Wiggins and McTighe, the authors of Learning by Design, promote the ‘backward design model’ for course design.

  • The idea of backward design is to begin course development by visualizing the end result (what students should understand) before selecting learning activities.  
  • The course design process begins by asking “What should [the students] walk out the door able to understand, regardless of what activities or texts we use?’ and ‘What is evidence of such ability?’ and therefore, ‘What texts, activities, and methods will best enable such a result?” (17)

Backward design is comprised of three stages:

  • 1) Identify desired results
    • “In stage 1 we consider our goals, examine established content standards (national, state, district), and review curriculum expectations” (18).

  • 2) Determine acceptable evidence
    • What “collected evidence [is] needed to document and validate that the desired learning has been achieved” (18).

  • 3) Plan learning experiences and instruction (17-18). 
    • Determine “appropriate instructional activities” (18)

When creating lesson objectives you should ask what evidence can you produce at the end of instruction that proves the students actually learned the content. This evidence may be the product of course activities and/or assessments (performance tasks and projects).

Backward Course Design

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