Twelve Tips for using the Understanding by Design curriculum planning framework

Published:2024, Medical Teacher
2024 Jan;46(1):34-39. doi: 10.1080/0142159X.2023.2224498. Epub 2023 Jun 19
Authors:Newell A, Foldes C, Haddock A, Ismail N, Moreno N.
PMID:37334694 , PMCID:PMC10728343

curriculum development, backward design, outcomes, curriculum design, planning, teacher development

View Publication


Background: Health professions faculty engaged in curriculum planning or redesign can struggle with developing courses or programs that align desired learner outcomes, such as competencies to be applied in a clinical setting, with assessment and instruction.

Aims: Our medical school implemented the Understanding by Design (UbD) framework to achieve alignment of outcomes, assessments and teaching during the renewal of our four-year curriculum. This article shares our strategies and practices for implementing UbD with teams of faculty curriculum developers.

Description: The UbD framework is a ‘backward’ approach to curriculum development that begins by identifying learner outcomes, followed by the development of assessments that demonstrate achievement of competencies and concludes with the design of active learning experiences. UbD emphasizes the development of deep understandings that learners can transfer to novel contexts.

Conclusions: We found UbD to be a flexible, adaptable approach that aligns program and course-level outcomes with learner-centred instruction and principles of competency-based medical education and assessment.