Understanding by Design: A Framework for Effecting Curricular Development and Assessment
Successful learning outcomes require the integration of content and meaningful assessment with effective pedagogy. However, development of coherent and cohesive curriculum is seemingly overwhelming even to experienced teachers. Obviously this creates a barrier to successful student learning. Understanding by Design (UbD) overcomes this impasse by providing concise and practical guidance for experienced and inexperienced teachers. In programs sponsored by NSF and NIH, teams composed of University of Wyoming graduate students and science teachers from grades 6-9 designed motivating, inquiry-based lesson plans intended to get students to think and act like scientists. In this process, teams utilized principles outlined in UbD with great success. UbD describes a practical and useful “backward” design process where anticipated results are first identified; acceptable evidence for learning outcomes is established and, only then, are specific learning experiences and instruction planned. Additionally, UbD provides procedures to avoid content overload by focusing on “enduring principles”. WHERE, the UbD sieve for activities, was used effectively to develop tasks that are engaging, consistent with state educational standards and that promote self-directed, life long learning.