What is Understanding by Design?
Understanding by Design (UbD) is a framework for improving student achievement. Emphasizing the teacher’s critical role as a designer of student learning, UbD works within the standards-driven curriculum to help teachers clarify learning goals, devise revealing assessments of student understanding, and craft effective and engaging learning activities.
How do I begin Understanding by Design?
First, you should establish learning goals for the course. What should students know, understand and be able to do? How do you prioritize and narrow down the content to fit within the limited framework of the course? UbD provides a useful process for establishing curricular priorities. Ask yourself three questions as you progressively focus in on the most valuable content:
- What should participants hear, read, view, explore or otherwise encounter? This knowledge is “worth being familiar with.”
- What knowledge and skills should participants master? Sharpen your choices by considering what is “important to know and do” for your students. What facts, concepts and principles should they know? What processes, strategies and methods should they learn to use?
- What are the big ideas and important understandings participants should retain? These choices are the “enduring understandings” that you want students to remember after they’ve forgotten the details of the course.
Answering each of these questions will help you determine the best content for your course, and create concrete, specific learning goals for your students.