Backward Design

Backward design is a student-centered practice that flips the way we think about major, program, and course design. Instead of “what will we teach,” faculty begin with “what do we want students learn?” As the expert in your discipline, you formulate the broader, long-term learning goals and then set expectations for students in terms of specific learning objectives.

This approach helps to define and locate the learning in your major or course, allowing you to design curricula, assignments, and activities will best result in the learning that you want to happen. From there, you can design assessments of student work that match the goals, objectives, and learning opportunities you have provided students.

Graphic of backward design