70 %
Chris Biscardi

Understanding by Design

What is Understanding, by Design?

A framework for curriculum planning, assessment design, and teaching with a goal of teaching for understanding and transfer.

What we want students to understand are the larger transferrable concepts and processes within and across subjects.


Jay McTighe

What is worth understanding in the area that we're teaching?

Resources and Notes


  • UbD at Vanderbilt

  • Video 1 of 2

  • Video 2 of 2

  • Not serendipitous on accident like: a student asks a question and we just go with that for awhile

  • Serendipitous by intention: that student question is a great entry point into the next piece of a structured curriculum.

Video 1

  • Keep long-term goals (and understanding in particular) in view
  • Get the blend of 'content' and 'performance' right
  • Better engage learners

It is possible to get straight As at every school in America without critical and creative thinking

You can't just pat yourself on the back because you admit smart people and they do smart things

If you had to write a 1 sentence mission statement for your course: What would it be?

"What is the point of my course?"

Video 2

The textbook is not the course. The textbook is a resource in support of the course.

Design backwards from the outcomes you want, not from content headings.

term: "Transfer Goals"

Culminate in meaning and transfer

"We didn't cover that one" as a student response is a failure of the course

Intellectual engagement is a design consideration, it's not the student's problem