Backwards Design Process

Backwards Design Process

A framework for designing any curriculum is the Backwards Design Process developed by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe (2006).

Watch this short video of the Backward Design Process to get a quick overview of the process. 

Wiggins and McTyhe emphasize that there are multiple entry points in using the framework.  For instance you can begin with a favorite lesson, a course, content goals/standards, a test, or desired real-world applications.  It is important to understand that curriculum development is an iterative and sometimes an ambiguous process.  There is no real step by step  (although we will attempt this), because it is complex and dependent on many situational factors.  Know that we attempt to get you started using a combination of frameworks and methods.  But the important ideas are:

  1. Identifying the desired results (the Big Ideas, the essential enduring questions and core competencies);
  2. Determining the Acceptable Evidence (what you will see students doing and performance assessment); and
  3. Planning experiences and instruction


McTighe, J. & Wiggins, G. (2004). Understanding by Design: Profesional Development Workbook.  Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Wiggins, G. & McTighe, J. ( 2005).  Understanding by Design. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.