Understanding by Design

Last week, I utilized L. Dee Fink’s Learning Outcomes 3 column-table to design a unit of study. The 3 column-table focuses on aligning learning outcomes, assessments, and activities, which is an important part of planning and designing a course or a unit.  I have been a part of curriculum writing in my district numerous times over the years, but I have never been asked to start with learning outcomes. Starting with the 3-column table allowed me to see the details of the course more clearly. I was able to connect the learning outcomes, activities, and assessments directly, immediately seeing the connection and progression. This was great as a first step but did not give me the entire picture. This process would be most beneficial to anyone who is mapping out generalities for a course design.

This week I explored Wiggins and McTighe’s Understanding by Design template. This template allowed for much greater detail, which was exactly what I was looking for. The detailed learning plan allows teachers to see specific tasks and their purpose. This process would be most beneficial to anyone who is mapping out specifics for a course design.

UbD Template





Fink, L. D. (2003). A Self-Directed Guide to Designing Courses for Significant    Learning. Creating Significant Learning Experiences: An Integrated Approach to Designing College Courses. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

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


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