Backward Design Model (UbD)

Too move forward you must start backwards.

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Backward Design Model: Wiggins and McTighe's variation.

What do you want students to know and be able to produce? This is the starting point of the Backwards Design, knowing the end result of any curriculum put into effect. "The backward-design model gets teachers thinking like assessors before they develop curriculum units and lessons," (Ornestein & Hunkins, 2009, p. 217). Basically, you must start with your assessment on a particular standard and then work your way back showing how students will arrive at this knowledge in order to successfully complete the assessment. In this model you already know what your students should be able to do, the question is, how are they going to get there?

According to Wiggins and McTighe, in the first stage of this model you will make three levels of descisons:

First Stage

  1. What are the organization's goal and the content standard nationally, state-wide, and locally?
  2. Which conents will achieve your intended end results?
  3. Which specfic content will be used to provide "enduring understanding that will 'anchor' the unit or coarse," (Ornestein & Hunkins, 2009, p. 217).

Second Stage

  1. How will you know if the students have mastered the standard?

"When educators have clearly identified the curriculum's goals and deteremined how to assess the exten to which those goals have been reached, they are ready to plan instructional activities," (Ornestein & Hunkins, 2009, p. 217).


Ornestein, A. C., & Hunkins, F. P. (2009). Curriculum: Foundations, Principles, and Issues. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

Information Resources





Strategies and Ideas for Implentation
When beginning the implentation stages, Wiggins and McTighe have a list of questions that need to be addressed:
  1. "What knowledge and skills will students need to succeed in the course,"
  2. "What activities will enable students to master the requisite knowledge and skills,"
  3. "What should be taught, and how should it be taught, for students to become knowledgeable and skillful in the identified content area,"
  4. "What materials will foster sutdnet success in the curriculum,"
  5. "Does the overall design of the course or unit fulfill the principles of curriculum development," (Ornestein & Hunkins, 2009, p. 217).

I have been a part of a team that used backward design to build our curriculum. We took our End of Course test - results of which were below our goals and expectations - and worked back to decide on the standards. This then lead us to our objectives and activities. These were based on the type of questioning that was on the assessment. As a team we worked on this and followed our plan and saw a growth from -10.6 to a positive 12.7 in one year. Because the standards had changed and the test had as well this model worked because it had all of us focusing on the essential learning that the students needed.
Kimberly Edwards