How to do backward curriculum design - Inskip & Hicks
How to do backward curriculum design
Charlie Inskip | Alison Hicks
Department of Information Studies, UCL
Liverpool, April 4th – 6th 2018
This Masterclass will focus on backward design, an approach to curriculum design
developed by Wiggins and McTighe (2006) and adopted by the new ACRL Framework.
This approach, which uses learning outcomes to determine assessment approaches and
course content, will be explained and demonstrated
There will be an informed discussion on its relevance and validity in teaching information
The workshop will take a practical approach, devising learning outcomes, assessment
and content for a learning intervention to be agreed in the session.
It will draw from our experience in learning and teaching across a wide range of higher
educational and professional contexts in the UK and the USA.
Attendees will be able to take away a backward-designed lesson-plan which they can
then use as a basis for running a session in their workplace.
Apply theoretical principles and
practical examples in order to
create and evaluate a lesson
plan relevant to your work
• Professional competences
• Library school curriculum
• Professional identity
what is teaching?
“A teaching activity is the activity of a
person, A (the teacher), the intention of
which is to bring about an activity (learning),
by a person, B (the pupil), the intention of
which is to achieve some end-state (e.g.
knowing, appreciating) whose object is X
(e.g. a belief, attitude, skill).” (Hirst, 1971)
what is learning?
“making meaning” (Marton and Booth, 1997)
“relatively permanent change in behaviour as a
consequence of experience” (Haselgrove, 2016)
“mastering abstract principles, understanding proofs,
remembering factual information, acquiring methods,
techniques and approaches, recognition, reasoning,
debating ideas, or developing behaviour appropriate
to specific situations” (Fry et al., 2009)
Influenced by development
Occurs in phases, yet is
Uses cognitive and
Links new information to prior
Characteristics of learning (Crane, 2014)
schools of thought
Behaviourism Cognitivism Constructivism
• B.F. Skinner (1961)
– Learning: change in behaviour
– Environment shapes behaviour
– Timely events and reinforcement
• Rote learning
Skinner, B. (1968). The technology of teaching (Century psychology series). New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts.
• Jean Piaget (1929)
• 4 stages of development
– Active engagement
– Present challenges
– Perform tasks just beyond capabilities
Piaget, J. (1929) The child’s conception of the world
• Jerome Bruner (1966)
– Learning is an active process
– Individuals create new ideas or concepts
based on their current and past
– Learning should focus on real world
• Collaboration and reflective thinking
• Teacher as facilitator
Bruner, J. (1966) Toward a theory of instruction
Bloom, B. (1956) Taxonomy of Educational Objectives. New York : David McKay
Knowledge Remembering without
Application Solving problems
Analysis Finding evidence
Synthesis Creating a new
Evaluation Making judgements
transformative changes your views
irreversible cannot be unlearned
bounded has special terminology
discursive extends language use
reconstitutive shifts your perceptions
have an unstable 'in-
Threshold concepts, Meyer & Land, 2003
A focus on learning…
…rather than teaching, activities or content
What is backward design?
Stage 1: Identify Desired
Stage 2: Determine
Stage 3: Plan Learning
Experiences and Instruction
Backward design can help:
• Avoid activity or coverage
focused instructional design
• Make the most of time frame
• Centre on big ideas rather
• Design for understanding
For teaching and
“Simple, non-graded, anonymous, in-class
activities designed to give you and your
students useful feedback on the teaching-
learning process as it is happening”
• Background knowledge probe
• Muddiest Point
• Minute Paper
• Defining features
classroom assessment techniques
“known as alternative or authentic assessment,
it’s a form of testing that requires students to
perform a task rather than select an answer
from a ready-made list.”
• Open-ended or extended response exercises
• Solve problems
• Often measured by rubrics
performance assessment techniques
Develop topic-relevant vocabulary in order to search
databases with maximum flexibility and effectiveness.
• Classroom: Self Assessment
– What is the best search tip you will take away from today? What
changes will you make to your approach to searching?
– Develop a search statement at the beginning of class. Write an
improved statement at the end of class and 1 sentence about
why it is better.
– Complete a worksheet that guides through a search process
and ask students to reflect on changes they make to a search
statement. Graded by librarian/returned with feedback
Distinguish between scholarly, trade and popular
resources in order to think critically about the
authority of sources
• Classroom: Defining Features Matrix
– Students match characteristics in a table
• Classroom: Informal
– Students sort periodicals in groups and report on criteria
• Performance: Authentic
– If you were researching a company you wanted to work
for, what information would each of the following sources
provide about that company?
Take a look through the list of
assessments. Choose one that
aligns with and will help you
assess your learning outcome.
• What are its benefits and
• How could the librarian
respond to the results from
how will your students learn that?
SLO: Develop topic-relevant vocabulary in order
to search databases with maximum flexibility
Assessment: What is the best search tip you will
take away from today? What changes will you
make to your approach to searching?
Active learning: teaching in a half-ass way that makes
students have to go home and learn it on their own…
much more than…
• Hands-on activity
• Having students move
around the room
• Shiny technology
• “Engage” students
“Active learning is a process
whereby students engage in
activities, such as reading,
writing, discussion, or
problem solving that promote
analysis, synthesis, and
evaluation of class content.”
Michigan Center for Teaching and Learning
1. How will I cover all of the
2. I will have to abandon
everything I have learned to do
over the years
3. Students resist non-lecture
4. My colleagues will criticise me.
5. It is scary.
6. It is just too hard!
FACULTY PERCEPTIONS ABOUT BARRIERS TO ACTIVE LEARNING
SLO: Develop topic-relevant vocabulary in order to search databases
with maximum flexibility and effectiveness.
Assessment: What is the best search tip you will take away from
today? What changes will you make to your approach to research?
• Active Learning: Have students write down
their topic and keywords. Exchange with person
next to them for critique/brainstorming.
• Active Learning: Display a noun on the screen.
Have students shout synonyms to a guesser.
• Active Learning: Have students explore a visual
dictionary to come up with synonyms.
Take a look through the list of active
learning ideas. Choose one that aligns with
your learning outcome and assessment
• What are its benefits and drawbacks?
• What resources would you need to use