Backward Design



Read Chapter 1: Surfacing Backward Design from Small Teaching Online. Come to the next session ready to discuss using the backward design process in redesigning your course with OER.

The link above goes to the e-book chapter in one of our Library databases. Let us know if you have trouble logging in to read the chapter.


If you have time and interest, here is a podcast episode interviewing the author of Small Teaching Online, Flower Darby.

5 thoughts on “Backward Design

  1. Cynthia S Wiseman

    I have used backward design in creating assessments for courses in all subjects for years. This is a central, basic principle of evaluation and assessment — you have to define the construct before you can create an assessment to evaluate achievement/learning, and that means starting from the end by defining what it is you want students to learn. I have found the development of a rubric to be a key component in the design/creation of any assignment. I ask myself what it is that I am expecting to find in the assignment and create a rubric that essentially lists those expectations. This guides me in writing/revising the assignment description as well as in grading the papers.

  2. Katherine Johnson

    The reading, “Surfacing Backward Design,” from Small Teaching Online, gave me lots of good ideas. While I *think* that I already do things like give students questionnaires on the first day to inquire about their own goals in the class, have them do reflections at the term’s end on their progress, and explain the rationale for many assignments, this reading has made me think I will dive much deeper into course outcomes and enact some of the writer’s suggestions. I will find a way at the start of the semester, and/or at the start of different units, to have students themselves write what the outcome or takeaway is of a given unit; I will definitely implement some kind of syllabus quiz, as I’ve heard repeatedly is important for online teaching; and give students some glimpse of the Critical Thinking final exam at the term’s start. I also appreciated, again, the writer stressing to give the rationale very explicitly at the start of each new module, whether in writing or via video. I liked her, “Here’s what I want you to do; Here’s why … “ ; and Here’s how to do it,” formula (17).

    It would be even better if I could come up with a group activity that could be a sort of second ice breaker, derived out of that learning outcomes-check during the first week or two of the semester . This could be a chance for small groups to turn to each other and talk about “why are we here again?” in a structured way.

  3. John Uehlein

    I don’t remember receiving this assignment until the night before we are meeting again. I made it through about half of the chapter. My only thought is to hold them accountable for what they are listening to on a weekly basis through pop quizes. I really wish I’d had more lead time on this. And I’m going to bed now. I suppose I seem like one of our students.

  4. Tassos Rigopoulos

    I have a bit of a hard time differentiating between backward design and setting learning objectives for the course. Typically, these objectives are clearly articulated in the syllabus from the beginning. The hope is that class assignments help students meet these objectives in the end. Anyway, I look forward to understanding the topic better.

  5. Yolande Brener-Palaquibay

    I just loved this chapter. From what I understand, we read this in preparation for today’s discussion. The main things I got from this are:
    1. Introduce the desired end result at the beginning, and then to refer back to the initial expectation and its evolution at the end.
    2. Frequent reiterations of what, why and how we are doing assignments are even more important and need to be even more concise in online classes.

    Having read this chapter, I have been thinking about ways I can redesign some assignments. It gave me a lot of ideas.


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