Tag Archives: teaching philosophy

Backward Design Institute

This week is jmUDESIGN, a week-long course redesign institute for faculty. The institute is based on the principles of backward course design, primarily influenced by the work of Dee Fink. I went through this institute 2 years ago, and this is now my second time as a group facilitator. It’s a valuable program that has been very influential in my career development as a faculty member.

The essence of backward design is to start with your Big Ideas or Beautiful Questions (BI/BQ) and work backward toward designing your course structure. From BI/BQ, the next step is to define significant Learning Outcomes (LOs). These should go beyond just understanding concepts, but should be crafted to explain what you want your students to do with what they learn. The theme for this part of the institute is the 5-Year Dream, which encourages you to reflect on what they should do and know 5 years after your course is over. How do you want your students to change because of your course?

Next, we move to crafting both formative and summative assessments that are aligned with your LOs. At that point, we examine our pedagogical choices and practices to ensure that our classrooms are properly aligned to our goals.

Backward design is a fascinating concept to me because it is exactly what we should do when designing courses, but don’t. The week is exhausting, thought-provoking, inspirational, and a lot of fun. Even though this is my third time through the process, I am still learning and developing even deeper understanding of who I am as a teacher and what I want for my students. Over the next couple of posts, I’ll highlight a couple of interesting ideas that I am taking away from this week.

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