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Backward Design

The idea of Backward Design comes from Wiggins & McTighe and suggests that learning experiences should be planned with the final assessment in mind

One starts with the end - the desired results (goals or standards) - and then derives the curriculum from the evidence of learning (performances) called for by the standard and the teaching needed to equip students to perform' (Wiggins and McTighe, 2000, page 8)

By beginning with the end in mind, teachers are able to avoid the common problem of planning forward from unit to another, only to find that in the end some students are prepared for the final assessment and others are not.

There are three stages to backward design:

Stage 1: Identify Desired Results

Stage 2: Determine Acceptable Evidence of Learning

Stage 3: Design Learning Experiences & Instruction

For more information about the stages of backward design, check out this page from ARMS


Teaching to the Test vs. Teaching the Test

One criticism of this approach is that is appears to promote "teaching to the test". Yet despite the negative connotation that comes along with that phrase, argueable teaching to the test is exactly what the role of the instructor should be. This does not mean teaching the test itself, of course. But if a known final test or assessment is required, then backward design can be a useful way to prepare learners to perform well on the final assessment.


Backward Design Course (offered by ASCD)

Overview of Backward Design

ID Glossary