thing 13: Understanding by Design®


Wiggins, G. P., & McTighe, J. (2014). Improve Curriculum, Assessment, and Instruction Using the Understanding by Design® Framework.


Understanding by Design (UbD), developed by Wiggins and McTighe, is one of the Framework’s primary theoretical influences. The UbD Framework includes a three-step backwards design process intended to help educators plan instruction in a way that supports student understanding and transfer of knowledge. In this thing, we’ll walk practice applying the Understanding by Design framework.

1. Think about an upcoming teaching scenario. Based on what you’d like students to learn as a result of the experience, identify one learning outcome to represent your desired results. This could be an outcome you’ve already developed, or an outcome you create as part of Assessment Thing #2.

2. How could students demonstrate to you that they’ve met this outcome? Brainstorm 2-3 types of evidence that you help you see what students have learned. Refer to Wiggins and McTighe’s “Six Facets of Understanding” (page 5) for inspiration.
3. Once you’ve identified evidence/artifacts that would help you evaluate students’ progress, consider what kinds of activities, resources, or learning experiences would support students in their learning and produce the evidence you’re looking for. Describe 2-3 possible learning activities that would prepare students to create the evidence of student learning you listed in step 2.

Optional step for overachievers: Wiggins and McTighe suggest that learning experiences and instruction can address transfer, meaning making, or knowledge acquisition (page 6). Which of these components do your proposed learning experiences address?



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