Skip to main content
Social Sci LibreTexts

2.4: Backward Design II

  • Page ID
  • \( \newcommand{\vecs}[1]{\overset { \scriptstyle \rightharpoonup} {\mathbf{#1}} } \) \( \newcommand{\vecd}[1]{\overset{-\!-\!\rightharpoonup}{\vphantom{a}\smash {#1}}} \)\(\newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\) \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\) \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\) \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\) \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \(\newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\) \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\) \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\) \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\) \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\)

    Workshop Overview

    The Backward Design (BD) workshop sessions provide an introduction to this learner-focused course design approach.  During the workshop, participants first will be engaged in the different steps of the process and then will apply the approach to a topic from a course with which students struggle.  This workshop is split into to session.  The second session will take participants through steps 2 & 3 of BD - developing assessments and learning activities that align with participants learning goals and outcomes developed in the first session.  The term "engaugement" was coined by the authors of Scientific Teaching - Handelsman, Miller and Pfund, to indicate the nearly inextricable link between active learning and formative assessment, i.e. when you ask a student to do something, they are simultaneously engaged in learning and can gauge their progress by whether or how well they can perform.

    Using Backward Design allows us to re-envision our classes, so that in-class or synchronous time is spent on collaborative learning activities and formative assessments that foster critical thinking, problem-solving, and understanding of cognitively demanding material, while out-of-class or asynchronous time focuses on lower cognitive demand material in preparation for class or on further practice with higher cognitive demand concepts and skills after class. 

    Learning Outcomes

    Participants will be able to:

    • Use the principles of backward design to align learning outcomes with both learning activities/formative assessments and summative assessments
    • Develop/modify learning materials to engage students in deliberate practice
    • Use Bloom’s Taxonomy & 3-D LAP to evaluate assessments

    Key Terms

    • Backward Design
    • Deliberate practice
    • Formative assessment
    • Summative assessment
    • Alignment
    • Bloom's Taxonomy
    • 3-Dimensional Learning Assessment Protocol (3-D LAP)

    Active Learning/Formative Assessment Strategies

    • Gallery walk
    • Small group discussion
    • Alignment table development
    • Reflection
    • Model-based reasoning/problem-solving
    • Scenario/statement correction



    In order for our students to develop mastery, they need to spend time/effort engaged with the specific concept or skill. This concept is called Deliberate Practice (Ericsson et al., 1993). Essentially, the one doing is the one learning. The two essential components of this learning theory are effort expended on activities (practice) that are specifically design to result in mastery of a desired skill or concept (deliberate). Backward Design is a course design approach that helps us focus on the deliberation aspect of Deliberate Practice. Backward Design that guides us to be specific and intentional about what we want students to know, understand and be able to do by the end of our course and then use that knowledge to guide development of assessments that will provide evidence about whether or not students achieve our desired goal and learning activities that will maximize the likelihood that they will be successful. 


    1. *See the post-task from Backward Design I Session

    During Workshop


    1. Gallery Walk: Visit the Backward Design Session Google Folder then go to the folder for your institution to return to the Backward Design in Action Google Doc with the alignment table from yesterday's session.
      • Review your peers Alignment table rows starting with the rows directly under yours and work down (if you are at/near the bottom, wrap around and review rows at the top of ht table) using the Comment function in Google
        • Instructions for giving comments in Google
          • Highlight the text you want to comment on and a small plus sign inside a comment bubble symbol will appear to the right.
          • Click the plus sign symbol and put in your comment.
          • Click the "comment" button at the bottom.


    Selected Resources


    2.4: Backward Design II is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.