You are on page 1of 4

UbD in a Really Small Nutshell

Marie Therese Lim-Yason

Understanding by Design (UbD), also called “backward design”, is an

educational planning tool focused on “teaching for understanding”.

Designed by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe, it looks at the learning

outcomes rather than textbook content and activities in designing
curriculum units, performance assessments and classroom instruction.

With student understanding as its primary goal, UbD offers a flexible 3-

stage design process accompanied by a set of design tools and
standards such that content standards are “unpacked” and
transformed into pertinent Stage I elements and appropriate
assessments in Stage II. Understanding is manifested when learners
are able to independently transfer their learning via authentic
performance through their ability to explain, interpret, apply, shift
perspective, empathize and self-assess.

The teacher’s role is one of a coach – one who designs and supports
meaningful learning and “transfer” by the learner, adjusting the design
to reach intended results. Planning is done with Desired Results
(Stage I) and transfer tasks in mind with Evidences (Stage II) and the
Learning Plan (Stage III) carefully aligned for a unit to be most
effective. Adjustments are done upon regular reviews of the
curriculum against the design standards to ensure quality and success.


Transfer Goals
• State what long-term goals the learner should be able to
do on their own using the skills and knowledge they will

What long-term accomplishments would my students be

able to do with the knowledge and/or skill on their own?
What can they do with this knowledge or skill?

• Meaningful “big ideas” which can be transferable to
other disciplines and contexts and may not be
immediately be evident or are even prone to

What are the “big ideas” at the heart of the content

that need to be uncovered?
What understandings and predictable
misunderstandings might arise from them?

Essential Questions
• Open-ended questions that may lead to a variety of
answers and encourages active investigation, as well as
meaning-making. These may be arguable and looked at
from different perspectives and may recur during the
course of learning.

What questions will provoke inquiry, have no simple

“right” answer, can raise other questions, address the
conceptual or philosophical foundations of a
discipline and are still focused on the learning and
final performances aimed?

Knowledge and Skills

• Knowledge and skills students will acquire as a result of
the unit and what they should eventually do as a result

What resulting key knowledge and skills will my

students acquire? What resulting behaviors will they
have as a result of these knowledge and skills?


Performance Task(s)
• Evidence(s) of understanding (explaining, interpreting,
applying, shifting perspectives, empathizing and self-
assessing) to see if students can apply their learning to
various situations in the context of the real world;
evaluated using valid criteria and indicators reflecting
Stage I and the quality of performance by the learner;
and best written in GRASPS (Goal, Role, Audience,
Situation, Performance and Standard) format.

Through what appropriate authentic performance

tasks will my students be able to show the desired
understandings? What appropriate criteria can I use
to judge these?

Other Evidence
• Includes tests, quizzes, assignments, observations, etc.

Through what other evidence will my students show

achievement of the desired results? How will they
reflect upon and assess their learning by themselves?


Learning Events
• Aligned with Stages I and II goals and addresses the
acquisition, meaning-making and transfer of learning
where understandings are actively constructed by the
learner; strengthened when the WHERETO (Where,
Hook, Equip and Experience, Rethink, Evaluate, Tailor,
and Organize) elements are included

What engaging and effective learning experiences will

enable my students to achieve the desired results?

• Instructional approaches, resources and strategies most
appropriate to achieving the goals which are responsive
to the differences in the learners’ abilities and modalities
Based on what I know about my students, what
approaches, resources and strategies would be the
most appropriate in helping achieve the desired
Responding to the challenges of helping educators equip themselves with
appropriate and comprehensive learning tools and resources to enable students to
face real-world demands, Rex Publishing continually strives to update, innovate and
develop its wide array of educational publishing materials and related media.
The UbDs in this textbook series are intended to meet the needs of the general
population in the current situation. The needs and demands of students would vary
over time and locale. We strive to make the units flexible and classroom teachers
are encouraged to review the units over time and subsequently adjust them to meet
the needs of their learners.


Mtyason 2009